Tony Darden

Tony Darden (born September 2, 1957) is an American former track and field athlete, who competed in the sprints events during his career. He is best known for winning the men's 400-meter dash at the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan.

Tony Darden
Personal information
Birth nameTony Lee Darden
Born (1957-09-02) September 2, 1957 (age 62)
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight150 lb (68 kg)

Track careerEdit

Darden had a very successful track career for his high school, Norristown High, Pennsylvania; for his university, Arizona State;[1][2] and for his track club, Philadelphia Pioneers.

At high school, Darden won multiple state championships and achieved national fame by recording national indoor records at 300 and 500 yards.[3]

At Arizona State University, Darden was a key member of the track team, competing in the sprints and sprint relay, and helped the team to their first NCAA Championship in 1977.[4] Also in 1977, Darden was a member of two Arizona State record-breaking relay teams. The first tied the 4x220 yards world best with a time of 1:21.7 in Austin, Texas on April 1 at the Texas Relays. The second broke the world record for the 4×200 metres with a time of 1:21.4 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 30 at the Penn Relays.[5][6]

In 1979, Darden having finished second at the USA championships (see below) qualified for the Pan American Games. Willie Smith, as American No. 1, was expected to be the main rival to the legendary Cuban athlete Alberto Juantorena. In the end a foot injury and a problem with a shoe put paid to his chances, and it was an inspired piece of running by Darden that meant it was he who was to beat Juantorena into second.[7][8]

Darden finished third in 400 m at the 1979 Athletics World Cup and anchored the United States 4 × 400 m relay team to victory. Darden received some criticism for his run in the individual event but ran a superb relay leg to redeem his reputation.[9]

At the 1981 Athletics World Cup, Darden again anchored the United States 4 × 400 m relay team to victory, in a time that was then the third fastest ever.[10]

Darden never ran in an Olympics. As a high-school student he reached the quarter finals at the United States Olympic Trials in 1976. In 1980 though he finished fifth and so qualified for the 4 × 400 m relay squad but the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics.[11]

Darden set his personal best (45.01) in the 400 metres on June 21, 1981 in Sacramento.

Later careerEdit

As of 2012, Darden was head coach for the Greater Norristown Police Athletic League track and field team.

Darden is USATF level one certified coach.[12][13]

Between 2000 and 2004, Darden was a member of the Norristown Municipal Council and in 2004 Darden was Norristown Council President.[14][15]


Darden was ranked among the best in the US and the world in the 400 m sprint from 1977 to 1982, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[16][17]

400 meters
Year World rank US rank
1977 - 6th
1978 - -
1979 3rd 1st
1980 - 6th
1981 4th 3rd
1982 - 5th

USA ChampionshipsEdit

Darden was a very successful competitor at 400 m in the USA National Track and Field Championships between 1977 and 1984.:[18]

USA Championships
Year 400m
1977 2nd
1978 -
1979 2nd
1980 2nd
1981 2nd
1982 5th
1983 6th
1984 6th

Accolades and awardsEdit

In 2007, Darden was inducted into the Penn Relays 'Wall of Fame'.[19]

Darden had already been inducted into the Penn Relays "Relays’ Wall of Fame" in 1994 as a member of the winning 1977 Arizona State University 4 × 400 m relay team.[20]

In 1989, Darden, along with the rest of the members of the 1977 sprint relay teams, was inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame.[21]

In 1990, Darden was inducted into the Norristown Area School District Hall of Champions.[22]


  1. ^ Sun Devil Athletics Archived April 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, The Official Athletics Site of Arizona State University. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  2. ^ "Remembering Norristown", Stan Huskey, History Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-59629-723-4. "The Names of Norristown" p 81.
  3. ^ "Pennsylvania Track and Field Hall of Fame" Archived April 15, 2013, at Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "It Was A Hell Of A Win For The Devils", Joe Marshall, Sports Illustrated, June 13, 1977.
  5. ^ Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p 137 and p 428.
  6. ^ Men's Outdoor Records Archived April 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Sun Devil Athletics, Arizona State University. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "Jantorena out-kicked in Pan-Am 400 Meters", Associated Press, Observer-Reporter, Washington Pa, July 13, 1979.
  8. ^ "Juantorena Gets Ambushed", Joe Marshall, Sports Illustrated, July 23, 1979.
  9. ^ Sports Illustrated, Kenny Moore, September 3, 1979.
  10. ^ "Fine Times Weren't Had By All", Kenny Moore, Sports Illustrated, September 14, 1981.
  11. ^ The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field, R Hymans, USA Track & Field, 2008
  12. ^ Norristown PAL Team Speed Track and Field. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
  13. ^ "TRACK AND FIELD: Greater Norristown track team, ‘Team Speed’ is ready to compete", Times Herald Staff, The Times Herald. February 20, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Mystery of the Missing Mayor", Mark Marotta, NorristownPatch, August 22, 2011.
  15. ^ "Controversy surrounds newly powerful leader Council President Tony Darden faces tough questions about vetting of borough officials and about where he really lives.", Keith Herbert, Inquirer Staff Writer, August 20, 2004.
  16. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 400 meters". Track and Field News. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012.
  17. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 400 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.
  18. ^ USA Outdoor Track and Field Champions, Men's 400 m Archived February 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, USA Track and Field.
  19. ^ 2007 Penn Relays Wall of Fame Inductees Announced Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, The Penn Relays Office, April 17, 2007.
  20. ^ Relays’ Wall of Fame, Penn Relays.
  21. ^ ASU Hall Of Fame By Year Inducted Archived February 16, 2013, at, Sun Devil Athletics, Arizona State University.
  22. ^ Hall of Champions Inductees, Norristown Area School District.