Westmont Mourns Passing of Ravelomanantsoa

Submitted by: Ron Smith - September 28th, 2016

 

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Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa with TV Broadcaster Biil Toomey, 1968 Decathlon Gold Medalist.

Former Westmont Track and Field great Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa passed away yesterday at the age of 73. The highly decorated athlete was a three-time NAIA champion, a three-time Olympian and a world record holder.

Ravelomanantsoa was already an accomplished track and field athlete when he found his way to Westmont. He represented Madagascar at both the 1964 and 1968 Summer Olympic games. Competing in the 100 and 200 meter dash races, Ravelomanantsoa made his first Olympic finals in the 100 meters at the 1968 Mexico City games.

In the summer of 1970, Ravelomanantsoa was looking for educational opportunities in the United States. A misdialed phone call by his representative connected him with then Westmont head coach Jim Klein. A few months later, Ravelomanantsoa arrived in Santa Barbara with his wife, Ingrid, and their baby.

Representing the Warriors in the 1971 NAIA Indoor National Championships in Kansas City, Ravelomanantsoa not only claimed the title of national champion in the 60 yards, but did so by tying the world record of 5.9 seconds. Ravelomanantsoa later won the 60 yards at the National AAU Championship meet.

During the outdoor track and field season, Ravelomanantsoa won the 100 meters at the Easter Relays and the California Relays and earned NAIA Outdoor Track and Field All-American honors.

In the summer of 1971, Ravelomanantsoa competed at the World Games in Helsinki, tying the European Record in the 100 meters in a hand time of 10.0. At the end of the 1971 season, Track and Field News declared Ravelomanantsoa the number two sprinter in the world behind the Soviet Union’s Valery Borzov.

During the 1972 collegiate season, Ravelomanantsoa defended his NAIA national title in the indoor 60 yard race and repeated as 100 meter champion at the California relay. He also won the gold medal at the Mount SAC relays.

During Olympic years, collegiate championships were conducted in metric distances and Ravelomanantsoa won the 100 meter race at the NAIA Outdoor National Championship in Billings, Montana. Finishing in a time of 10.1 seconds, Ravelomanantsoa defeated the two previous winners Robert Taylor of Texas State University and Willie McGee of Alcorn State who later became a wide receiver in the NFL.

Following his graduation from Westmont in 1972, Ravelomanantsoa traveled to Europe and competed in a number of countries as he trained for the Munich Summer Olympic games. Though a serious contender for a medal, Ravelomanantsoa’s dreams were cut short when he sustained an injury during the semifinals.

Ravelomanantsoa returned to the United States and earned an MBA from the United States International University in San Diego. After receiving his graduate degree, Ravelomanantsoa moved to Kenya before relocating to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Ravelomanantsoa remained in Abidjan working as a health care facility loan officer for the African Development Bank until his retirement. He then returned to his native Madagascar.

Ravelomanantsoa continued to compete after the Munich Olympics and in 1975 was the winner of the prestigious Stawell Gift, Australia’s oldest and richest short distance running race. Held annually since 1868, the race attempts to handicap the competitors by assigning them different starting positions according to their prior performances. The full race, which is run on grass, is 120 meters in length. A head start of up to 10 or 11 meters is granted to most competitors. Ravelomanantsoa was the first of only two runners to have won the Stawell Gift from scratch (no handicap). His time of 12.0 seconds is considered to be the course record.

Ravelomanantsoa, who passed away after a battle with prostate cancer, is survived by his wife Ingrid, two daughters, Fabienne and Fluer, and five grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents and a son, Loic.

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Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa at Santa Barbara Easter Relays