Feb. 5, 2011
By Larry Watts
Anthuan Maybank has been back to the University of Iowa five times in the past year. He's hoping the next trip will be on a permanent basis.
"Every time I go back and run into friends, I realize I want to be there permanently because it feels like family there,'' says Maybank. "Hopefully I can find something in the banking industry for marketing or public relations in Des Moines or Iowa City. I want to be able to go to the Hawkeye athletic events, especially track, on a more regular basis.''
The 40-year-old Maybank currently resides in Wilmington, Del. and works as a marketing analyst for Barclays, a global financial services firm based out of Great Britain. He last visited Iowa City in September, when the former track standout was inducted into the university's Hall of Fame. The former sprinter and long jumper was a four-time All-American and seven-time Big Ten champion during his Hawkeye career from 1990 to 1993.
Had it just been for track alone, chances are the Georgetown, S.C., native never would have made the dash to Iowa. His recruiting visits also took him to Tennessee, Baylor and UCLA, all of which offered programs with great track history.
"No doubt I had a little more fun on those visits,'' Maybank says with a laugh. "But the truth is I came to Iowa because of (former head coach) Ted Wheeler. He not only won my mom over, but he won over the pastor of my church. After visiting those other places, I think everyone realized Iowa was the safest place for me. The only thing you could do in Iowa is study, and that was a good thing.
"Ted introduced me to deans of colleges, professors and other individuals I could call if I ever needed assistance. He made sure I was going to have academic guidance away from home. He definitely made me feel like I was going to graduate from here with a very good education.''
Iowa never finished higher than sixth indoors and seventh outdoors in the Big Ten meets during Maybank's stay. However, he did graduate in 1994 with a degree in business and communications. In 2009, he earned his master's degree in marketing management and business.
"It never really bothered me that we didn't do well as a team,'' he says. "When you sit back and reflect, track is really an individualistic sport. I concentrated on my individual events, but any time there was a relay, I didn't hesitate to jump in and try to contribute to the team. It would have been nice to have had some team championships for the school, but I made the best of the situation I could.''
Maybank didn't start running track until his sophomore year at Georgetown High School. However, in his final two years he won six state titles in the 200 meters, 400 meters and long jump.
"I did a lot of cross country during junior high and my first two years of high school,'' he says. "I used to lose all the time. A lot of my friends were in track, so that was a big reason I made the move. I just happened to excel at it because I was a lot bigger and stronger than everyone else.''
Maybank continued to excel at Iowa, where he still holds indoor records in the 200 (21.11 in 1993) and long jump (26-5½ in 1992) and outdoor records in the 400 (44.99 in 1992) and long jump (27-1 in 1993). He is second in the 200 (20.55) outdoors and fifth in the 400 (47.25) indoors. He was named the meet's top athlete after winning both the 400 and long jump at the 1993 Big Ten Championships.
His biggest moment wearing an Iowa uniform came while performing in the Drake Relays in 1993. In the midst of running prelims for both the 200 and 400, he hit a meet record 27-1 on his first attempt in the long jump.
"I had usually been in the high 26s in the long jump,'' he says. "But this time I had been doing a lot of speed work and it carried over to the runway. When I hit the board, I felt like it was a perfect jump at the time.
"I tried to stay calm and compose myself, but I was screaming on the inside. I bounced back down the runway as the next competitor was trying to compose himself because I had just beaten his mark by six or seven inches. It was a little bit of a mind game.''
Before the night was over, Maybank popped a 27-6¾ on his third jump. However, the jump was ruled to be wind-aided. His first jump went into the record book, but he is still credited with the longer one, plus an asterisk.
Inspired by breaking the oldest record in Drake Relays history, Maybank came back Saturday to break another record, becoming the first competitor to crack 45 seconds (44.99) in the 400.
"Most definitely that long jump record gave me a big lift for the 400,'' he says. "Once you have one victory under your belt, you have more self-confidence going into your next event. Even though I started a little behind in the 400, I felt as though I was stronger and had more speed than anyone else. I had nothing to lose and I couldn't lose.''
During the offseason, Maybank began competing in Europe in his junior year, hoping to eventually land a berth on the 1995 World Championship team. However, his performance at the trials for the World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan, did not meet expectations and he did not make the roster.
Having returned to Iowa, Mayback received a call. A couple of the runners had left the U.S. team and he was asked if he could run.
"Within one day I was on a plane to Japan,'' he says.
Maybank certainly made the most of his opportunity. He helped the U.S. win gold in the 4x400 relay and also won the 200.
By 1996, when Maybank was spending half the year in Los Angeles and the other half competing in the European circuit, he was ranked No. 2 in the world in the 400 behind Michael Johnson. However, at the trials for the Olympic Games in Atlanta, he was disqualified for running three-consecutive strides on the line on the curve heading into the home stretch. Although he had been disqualified, he was later selected as an alternate for the 4x400 relay team.
"I think I was selected as an alternate because I had shown the coaches I was a team player back in '95, when they asked me to come to Japan on short notice,'' he says. "I had been competing well all year and no one had beat me other than the world record holder (Johnson).''
Maybank, who ran a personal best 44.77 during the prelims, made a strong case for his Olympic berth one week after the Olympic Trials, when he clocked a lifetime best 44.15 at the Lausanne (Switzerland) Grand Prix. Then he posted a 44.67 at the Stockholm (Sweden) Grand Prix.
Because both Johnson and Butch Reynolds were nursing injuries, Maybank had a pretty good idea he would be competing for the United States in Atlanta. When Johnson suffered a further injury in the 200 finals, Maybank was guaranteed to run anchor for the relay squad.
"Without Michael and Butch, our team still had a lot of talent but not a lot of international exposure,'' Maybank says. "Great Britain and Jamaica had very strong teams, but we got the lead on the first lap and never let up.''
Holding off 400 silver medalist Roger Black of Great Britain, Maybank brought the gold medal home with a 43.87 quarter.
Standing on the podium with the gold medal around his neck as the flag was being raised, Maybank says there were many thoughts running through his head.
"It was emotional because so many members of my family and friends were there to see me, so it felt like home,'' he says. "I just kept thinking all the hard work and choices I had made were well worth it. Right then, I was right where I anticipated I would be because of those choices to keep moving from one place to another.''
Living primarily in Paris, Maybank went back overseas to continue competing on the European circuit. He then moved to Germany in 2000 to continue training and take on coaching jobs. But before he left, he had already become fluent in French.
"This was the time I started thinking more about what I was going to do after track,'' he says. "I stayed in Germany one year and then returned to France to continue to train and work as a sports commentator. It was a pretty good lifestyle going from sporting event to sporting event.''
Maybank stopped competing at the World Championships in 2003 and eventually returned to the United States in 2007. In 2008, he was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.
"Even though I competed against Drake, it was nice to know they recognized a true athlete,'' he says. "I have been invited back to sit in the stands each year.''
His induction into Iowa's Hall of Fame followed this past September.
"It was a good feeling knowing I had made contributions to Iowa because the education I received there has taken me from place to place in the world,'' he says.
While working at Barclays, he has been performing volunteer work and passing on his knowledge. He serves as chair for the marketing and fundraising committee for the National Academy Foundation, which assists underprivileged youth in preparing for college. He is working 10 hours per week as strength coach with the Second Chance Track Club and has been a consultant for the Wilmington University cross country team.
Through it all, he still runs 20 miles per week.
"I don't look like I'm 40,'' he says proudly. "My mind and body are still strong. My problem is I can't find any friends to run with me.''
Hence the yearn to return to Iowa, where Maybank knows there are plenty of friends willing to match him stride for stride.