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Queens Chronicle

Honoring a real champion

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Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:00 am

Honoring a legendary Queens athlete, the city on Saturday formally dedicated the Al Oerter Recreation Center at Flushing Meadows Park.

Led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Oerter’s widow, Cathy, public officials and young athletes alike honored the memory of an athlete from Astoria who went from playing stickball under the train tracks as a kid to winning four gold medals in four successive Olympics. Oerter and Carl Lewis are the only track and field Olympians to win the gold in the same event four times in a row.

Oerter won his in discus throwing from 1956 through 1968, setting an Olympic record each time —itself a unique achievement. He was elected into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983 and died in 2007.

The $50 million complex that bears his name is one of the largest recreational facilities in Queens. It is designed in part to help train future Olympians, with its indoor track, weight-lifting and cardio rooms.

“If we strive to be the best we can be each day, we can do some wonderful things on this earth,” Al Oerter had said — and his namesake is meant to help young people do just that.

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