“I imagined to be a famous track star…I always wanted to run…” – Robin Campbell-Bennett, 1969
Hine Junior High School almna Robin Campbell-Bennett is a Washington, DC native and a track and field Olympian with many international accolades. Residing in Capitol Hill in the same neighborhood she grew up in, Robin partly credits her love of running to her four brothers who had a tendency of picking on their younger sister. Looking for a way to defend herself, at the age of 9, she learned how to box at Bryan Elementary School. She was shortly then introduced to running through the same after-school recreational program when she realized the pain associated with boxing was not for her.
Running quickly became her passion. Robin participated in exhibition races at the Olympic Trials in 1972 at the age of 13, because she was too young to compete in the official races. The following year, she started traveling the world with the U.S. Indoor/Outdoor Track and Field Teams. She was abroad for the majority of her schooling so teachers asked her to write about the places she saw and the experiences she had to make up for assignments. In 1975, she moved to Florida with her sister and coach and qualified for the 1976 Olympic Trials in the 400, 800, and 1500 meter races.
In 1980, President Carter announced the U.S. Summer Olympic Team would boycott the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Having qualified to run, Robin and other American Summer Olympians received Congressional Gold Medals. In 1984, she became a semi-finalist in the 800 meter race in the Los Angeles Olympics.
Her favorite memories include meeting President Bill Clinton at Eastern High School, getting Jesse Owens’s autograph, sitting with Wilma Rudolph during the 1984 Olympics, and developing a life-long friendship with her personal hero, Dr. Lillian Green Chamberlin. Another life experience that she would never forget was during the Friendship First Competition in China in 1975. Campbell-Bennett was the third leg of the 4×100 relay receiving the baton from Evelyn Ashford and passing to Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo). After the Olympics, Robin stayed involved in track and field by becoming an U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete Representative and coaching youth running with the DC Parks and Recreation Department, the program that introduced her to running when she was child.
She has mentored young children as well as work in customer service which she still does today. Looking back on her life, she never thought that sibling rivalry would lead her to the Olympics. Sitting among stars like Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph, Robin Campbell-Bennett is a star in her own right and The District is lucky to have our own decorated Olympian.