The Ivy Influence: Meredith Rainey Valmon
DID YOU KNOW? Meredith Rainey Valmon is the
first woman in Ivy League track and field history to win an
individual NCAA Championship.
Between indoor and outdoor track and field while at Harvard, Rainey Valmon combined to take home 12 Ivy League titles and two NCAA Championships. After a 10-year professional career that saw her compete in two Olympics and win bronze in the 800m at the 1999 Pan American Games, Rainey Valmon continues to run through life at a dizzying speed.
Rainey Valmon was a stellar runner growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., but switched her focus to volleyball and basketball in high school. She chose to attend Harvard and, after procrastinating because she was nervous to speak to then Crimson head track and field coach Frank Haggerty, finally mustered the nerve in the fall of 1986 to ask if she could walk on to the team.
For the next four years, Rainey Valmon did not walk but sprinted through the Harvard and Ivy League record books. She was a four-time League champion in both the indoor and outdoor 400m and a two-time champion in the outdoor 800m. She also won the 55m and 800m indoor championships in 1990 en route to being named Most Outstanding Performer.
Rainey Valmon scored 38 points by herself in the outdoor championships in 1990 to lead Harvard to its first-ever outdoor League title. That same year, she was selected as a recipient of the NCAA's prestigious Today's Top Six Award, given annually to the six most outstanding graduating student-athletes in the nation.
To this day, Rainey Valmon’s all-meet times of 52.96 in the indoor 400m, 51.56 in the outdoor 400m and 1:59.73 in the outdoor 800m have yet to be beaten. She holds the top three times in the outdoor 400m.
Rainey Valmon continued her impressive track and field career even after graduation, competing in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games as well as four World Championships, three Grand Prix Finals and two World Indoor Championships. Her best finish came in the 1999 Pan American games, where she won the bronze medal in the 800m.
True to her track and field form, Rainey Valmon has never
stopped running, even if it isn’t necessarily on the track.
She has worked in public relations and served as Vice President of
Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the organization that directed
the District of Columbia's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. She
has contributed to MomsTeam.com, a website dedicated to addressing
the needs of sports parents. She has served as a volunteer
assistant coach for Maryland, where her former coach and husband,
Andrew Valmon, coaches the Terrapins’ track
and field teams.
Rainey Valmon worked with her husband to found the Avenue Program, which works to develop the educational, vocational and emotional skills necessary to improve the lives of underprivileged children. Several former Ivy League athletes also work with the Avenue Program, including former Columbia fencing All-American Bob Cottingham, former Penn Olympian Randy Cox and former Brown runner Julia Stevenson.
Now a mother of three, Rainey Valmon works from home while raising her children Travis, Maya and Mallory. No matter what she does, she has never stopped running.