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How many coaches can say they had a pair of sprinters in the finals of the 200m dash at the 2008 Olympics? Florida State assistant coach Ken Harnden is the only one. Widely considered one of the top sprints coaches in the world, the former Olympian's sprinters have been the cornerstone of the Seminoles' National Championship runs.
And 2011 almost saw the FSU men capture another title thanks to the efforts of Harnden's sprinters. Ngoni Makusha, who had already made a name for himself as a national champion long jumper, won the men's 100m dash at the NCAA Championships with a collegiate record 9.89 in the race. Maurice Mitchell then won the men's 200m dash and the 4x100m relay team won its own national championship.
While he was injured and unable to compete at nationals, one of Harnden's pupils put on a show in 2009 on the world stage as senior Charles Clark claimed sixth place in the 200m at the World Championships. Clark was coming off a pair of NCAA National Championships just two months before advancing to the final of the 200m in Berlin, Germany. Another pair of sprinters were in Berlin representing the Seminoles and Harnden as the Borlee twins, Kevin and Jonathan, were competing in the 400m and 4x400m-relay for their native Belgium.
Harnden was instrumental in the success of Walter Dix throughout his career at Florida State. In 2008, Dix won the Olympic bronze medal in the 100m and 200m dashes. In the 200m, former Seminole Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe placed fourth. During the second round of the 200m Dzingai had the fastest time of any runner. In addition, Ricardo Chambers represented Jamaica in the 400m.
One of the best 400m hurdlers in the world during his career, Harnden had six athletes competing at Olympic Trials in the summer of 2008. Joining Dix at the US Trials was Clark in the 200m, former All-American Michael Ray Gavin in the 200m and 2008 NCAA Indoor hurdle champ Drew Brunson in the 110m hurdles. Clark and Brunson both advanced to the finals of their events.
Harnden's work has not gone unnoticed at the regional and national levels. He has earned two NCAA Division I National Assistant Coach of the Year awards for the sprint group after first collecting the award in 2005. In addition he picked up the same honor in the East Region.
Dix may go down as the greatest collegiate sprinter of all time. He finished his career with eight NCAA Championships and 18 All-American honors. In 2007, he won four NCAA titles to up his tally to seven on his way to NCAA Division I Track Athlete of the Year and ACC Male Athlete of the Year. His victories in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay made him the first sprinter since John Carols in 1969 to accomplish the feat. In addition, he shattered the NCAA 200m outdoor record at the East Regional with a mark of 19.69 and qualified for the World Championships.
Under Harnden's tutelage, Brian Dzingai broke the Zimbabwe national record in the 200m and met the Olympic `A' standard to secure his trip to Athens to represent his native country. He holds the distinction of being Harnden's first All-American after taking fifth at the 2004 Championships. The 2007 Indoor and Outdoor NCAA champion in the 400m, Ricardo Chambers turned professional after the 2007 season after breaking the school record set by Olympic gold medalist Walter McCoy. Both Dzingai and Chambers made it to the semifinals of the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan and competed in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Harnden was a two-time Olympian for his native country of Zimbabwe in 1996 and 2000, a three-time participant and two-time finalist at the World Championships. He also garnered a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 400m hurdles in 1998.
A two-year letterwinner at the University of North Carolina, Harnden won an NCAA Championship in the 400m hurdles and was a member of the 4x400m relay team that won the NCAA title in 1995. He still holds the Tar Heel 400m hurdle record as well as the indoor 4x400m record.
In addition to his responsibilities with the men's sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams, Harnden assistswith recruiting and home meet management at Mike Long Track.
2005 and '07 NCAA NATIONAL ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR (SPRINTS) 2005 and '07 NCAA EAST REGION ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR (SPRINTS)
2005 and '07 NCAA NATIONAL ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR (SPRINTS)
2005 and '07 NCAA EAST REGION ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR (SPRINTS)