The Armory: NYC’s Olympic lucky charm

The Armory Track & Field Center during New Balance Collegiate Invitational in 2007.

Maybe it’s the 103-year history, or the fact that it emerged as an athletic powerhouse after a stint as a homeless shelter, or maybe because it’s an epicenter of the largest track events in the world: Something about The Armory on Fort Washington Avenue gives it golden-ticket status when it comes to the Olympics.

Throughout its rich history, The Armory indoor track has played host to the world’s finest athletes, hundreds of them going on to represent their countries in Olympic Games. This year alone, 156 athletes from 40 nations who have competed at The Armory will face off against each other at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Built in 1909 as an armory for the 22nd Regiment of the Army Corps of Engineers, The Armory hosted its first track meet in 1914 and served as a launching pad for Olympic athletes through the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. In 1984, the city — faced with a homelessness epidemic — converted New York’s armories into shelters. Athletes still tried to utilize The Armory’s facilities, even running around the thousands of beds that sat within the track’s center, but eventually even that became impossible.

In 1993, after fierce lobbying by non-profit The Armory Foundation, the city finally agreed to renovate The Armory and return it to its former glory as a track and field arena. Since then, The Armory Foundation has invested $50 million in the facility, which now hosts prestigious events like the UAA Championships, The Armory Collegiate Challenge and the Millrose Games.

“There have been more Olympians who have competed indoors at The Armory than in any building in America,” Dr. Norb Sander, executive director of The Armory Foundation, said.

Its long tradition of hosting future track and field greats raises the questions whether the historic sports landmark has some invisible quality that turns athletes into international stars. Is The Armory an Olympic lucky charm?  

“It is,” Sander said with certainty. “It’s considered among some to be the fastest track in the country.”

In fact, athletes who compete at The Armory form such a connection with the track, that some even return to the facility looking for careers. Aliann Pompey, a Guyanese national record holder in track, now works for The Armory’s college prep program for inner city youth, after competing there herself earlier in her career. Pompey is taking a brief sabbatical from work at The Armory to compete in the 400 meters for Guyana in London — it will be her fourth Olympic experience.

“It’s a great thing to be here and be around this great excitement and success,” Sander told Metro. “It’s terrific to be associated with it.”

Among the 156 athletes who will compete in London after passing through The Armory, 55 are Americans including Julie Culley, Ryan Bailey, Justin Gatlin, Lashinda Demus and Jenny Simpson.

“The history and the quality of The Armory track makes it one of my favorite places to race,” Simpson, who will run the 1500 meters in London, said. “The venue has been instrumental in providing great racing opportunities for many of the world’s best athletes.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.