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A top-three event from the Tucker Center

October 16, 2008

Shani Marks competes in the triple jump at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials.

Shani Marks competes in the triple jump at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. Marks qualified for the Olympics by winning the event with a mark of 47 feet, 2 1/2 inches—a personal best. 

Tucker Center fall lecture features a trio of Minnesota Olympians

The Tucker Center is all about celebrating the participation and performance of female athletes at all levels—be they little girls playing T-ball to elite international competitors.

In the wake of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, who better to highlight in a showcase public lecture than three female Olympians from Minnesota? The Fall 2008 Distinguished Lecture, "Minnesota Female Olympians: Stories, Experiences, & Inspirations," will feature three great names in U.S. track and field: Janis Klecker, Carrie Tollefson, and Shani Marks.

Klecker competed in the 1992 Olympic marathon in Barcelona, Spain—the same year she won the Olympic Trials. An Edina native and University alumnae, Klecker is a five-time qualifier for the Olympic Trials, Twin Cities Marathon champion and winner of countless other races. Such achievements have earned her a place in the U.S. Track & Field Minnesota Hall of Fame. Currently, Klecker holds the women's world record for the 50K, a record that has stood for more than 25 years.

Video preview of event

Watch a video in which Shani Marks reflects on her Olympic experience and Doug Hartmann talks about the significance of the success of Chinese female athletes.

Tollefson began her career as a distance runner while growing up in Dawson, Minnesota. She was a 13-time Minnesota State High School champion in both cross country and track and field. At Villanova, Tollefson continued her winning ways when she became a five-time NCAA Champion and 12-time All-American. During her post-collegiate career she has won a national championship in both cross county and indoor track. And in the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, Greece, Tollefson competed in the 1500-meter race after winning the Olympic Trials.

And Marks, a native of Apple Valley, was a three-time All-American triple jumper and NCAA runner-up while competing for the University of Minnesota. She is also a two-time defending national champion in the indoor and outdoor triple jump, the current Olympic Trials champion, and just represented the United States in the triple jump at the Beijing Olympics. Marks is currently in her fourth season as a volunteer track and field coach for the U.

The Olympics are not only about medal counts and wins and losses. They occur within a spectrum of issues related to gender, class, and race. To provide the context for this complexity, University sociology professor Doug Hartmann will kick off the lecture by critiquing the Olympics in general and the Beijing Olympics in particular.

And Hartmann is well suited to speak on that topic. Last May, he co-taught the course "Beijing Olympics: Sports and Globalization," in which his students traveled to Beijing to gain firsthand knowledge of "history in the making."

He'll share his own experiences in China followed by a discussion with the three Minnesota Olympians that will focus on their life stories, Olympic experiences, and inspirations.

The Fall 2008 Distinguished Lecture is Wednesday, October 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hubert H. Humphrey Center on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. Visit the Tucker Center for more information on the event and the center.