Renaldo Nehemiah
Nehemiah with the S.F. 49ers
Personal Information
Jersey #(s)
Born: March 24 1959 (1959-03-24) (age 61) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
Birthplace: {{{birthplace}}}
Career information
Year(s) 19821984
NFL Draft Not Drafted / Round: N/A / Pick: N/A (Free Agent)
NFL Supplemental Draft / Pick:
College University of Maryland
Professional teams
Career stats
Receptions 43
Receiving Yards/YPC 754/17.6
Touchdowns 4
Career highlights and awards
  • Longest Reception, 59 yards for TD in 1984
    *First man in track and field to run high hurdles in under 13 seconds
    *Member, Super Bowl XIX Champion 49ers team, 1984
    *4-time winner, ABC-TV The Superstars Competition (1981, 1982, 1983, 1985)

Renaldo ("Skeets") Nehemiah (born March 24, 1959 in Newark, New Jersey[1]) is an American athlete who dominated the 110 m hurdle event from 1978 until 1981. He was the world record holder and the first man to run the high hurdles in under 13 seconds. He was ranked number one in the world for four straight years.

Track and field career[edit | edit source]

Nehemiah was the national junior champion in 1977, the same year he graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in his hometown of Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[2] Nehemiah's high school personal bests were 12.9 in the 110 meter hurdles and 35.8 in the 300 meter hurdles, so much faster than his competitors that his coach had him compete over 42 inch hurdles (collegiate height) and occasionally train over 45 inch hurdles.[3] After graduating from Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Nehemiah attended the University of Maryland, where he won three NCAA titles (two indoor).

Nehemiah's sophomore year at UMD proved to be his breakout year. He broke the world record in the 110 meter hurdles twice in two weeks, running 13.16 and then 13.00. At the 1979 Penn Relays, Nehemiah anchored UMD's shuttle hurdle relay, 4x400 meter relay, and 4x200 meter relay, and was named meet MVP.[4] Despite being the prohibitive favorite to win the 110-meter hurdles in the 1980 Summer Olympics, he was unable to compete due to a 64-nation boycott of the Games, spearheaded by the United States. At the Weltkasse meet in Zürich, Switzerland, Nehemiah broke the world record for the 110 meter hurdles and became the first person to ever run the race in less than 13 seconds. In an interview, Nehemiah explained his race as less than ideal: "I was way out of control over the first hurdle. Then I floated over the second hurdle, and Greg [Foster] caught me going into the third hurdle. From there, I just ran as fast as I could. It was just one of those things where I was just determined to win. I knew that if I could stay out in front, I could make him make a mistake. He's six-foot-three, so if I'm getting crowded between hurdles, I know he's getting crowded trying to chase me. For the first three hurdles I had too much adrenaline; I couldn't control it, so I had to slow myself down. I knew that, technically, I was a better hurdler, faster between and over the hurdles. That's probably what got me ahead of him. It's a different race when you're chasing someone than when you're being chased." [5]

Personal Bests
No. Event Time Recorded Date Venue
1. 50 m H 6.36 February 3, 1979 Edmonton, Alberta, CAN
2. 55 m H 6.89 January 20, 1979 New York, NY
3. 110 m H 12.93 August 19, 1981 Zurich, Switzerland

Football career[edit | edit source]

Nehemiah worked out in 1982 for several NFL teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers and ended up signing with the 49ers in a blaze of publicity and high expectations. During his three years as a wide receiver he caught 43 passes for 754 yards, a 17.5 average, and 4 touchdowns. Although he was part of the Super Bowl winning team in the 1984 season, he did not play a major role. His football career is deemed by some to be a failure – many think it represents one of the most glaring mistakes ever made by 49ers head coach Bill Walsh – winning Nehemiah a comparison to the track star Jimmie "Oops" Hines, who won his infamous nickname for his inability to catch the ball. However, a strong point of Nehemiah was that he would draw the defense into deep coverage whenever he was on the field. He would often be guarded with deep or double coverage, thereby demonstrating a success of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was made expendable in 1985 when the 49ers drafted Jerry Rice in the first round, and he returned to the track in 1986. He managed to achieve world rankings four more times before retiring from athletics after the 1991 season.

The Superstars[edit | edit source]

Nehemiah was the only four-time winner of The Superstars, a made-for-television decathlon-style competition broadcast by ABC Sports. He won the event in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986.

Management[edit | edit source]

He is currently involved with Octagon Sports Marketing, a sports management and marketing agency, as the Director of Track & Field. He has represented many of the world's best hurdlers and sprinters including Allen Johnson, Mark Crear and Justin Gatlin.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "USATF Hall of Fame", USATF Hall of Fame, Accessed May 23, 2010
  2. "SPORTS PEOPLE; Nehemiah Wins One", The New York Times, November 10, 1982. Accessed January 3, 2008.
  3. "Renaldo Nehemiah: Master of the Art Form", Black Athlete Sports Network, Feb 8 2009, Accessed May 23, 2010
  4. "Renaldo Nehemiah: Master of the Art Form", Black Athlete Sports Network, Feb 8 2009, Accessed May 23, 2010
  5. "Renaldo Nehemiah: Master of the Art Form"], Black Athlete Sports Network, Feb 8 2009, Accessed May 23, 2010

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.