Renaldo Nehemiah
Nehemiah in 1981
Personal information
Born (1959-03-24) March 24, 1959 (age 65)
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

American football career
No. 83
Position:Wide receiver
Personal information
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:181 lb (82 kg)
Career information
High school:Scotch Plains (NJ) Fanwood
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:40
Receiving yards:754
Receiving Touchdowns:4
Player stats at PFR
Event(s)Sprint, hurdles
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 10.24 (1979)
200 m – 20.37 (1979)
110 mH – 12.93 (1981)[1][2]
Medal record
Representing the  United States
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1979 San Juan 110 m hurdles
IAAF World Cup
Gold medal – first place 1979 Montreal 110 m hurdles

Renaldo "Skeets" Nehemiah (born March 24, 1959) is a retired American track and field athlete who specialized in the 110 m hurdles. He was ranked number one in the world for four straight years, and is a former world record holder. Nehemiah is the first man to run the event in under 13 seconds. Nehemiah also played pro football in the National Football League (NFL) as a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers from 1982 to 1985, before returning to track and field athletics from 1986 to 1991. After retiring from competition, he has worked in sports management.

Track and field career

Nehemiah was nicknamed "Skeets" as a baby because he crawled along the floor so fast.[3] The nickname followed him.[4] He was the national junior champion in 1977, the same year he graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School in his hometown of Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[5] Nehemiah's high school personal bests were 12.9 in the 110 meter hurdles and 35.8 in the 300 meter hurdles, so much faster than his competitors that his coach had him compete over 42 inch hurdles (collegiate height) and occasionally train over 45 inch hurdles.[6] He was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1977.[7][8][9] The cover was noted for showing Nehemiah in a reflective mood rather than in action as most other T&FN covers.[10] "I always look spaced out at meets, sort of nonchalant," Nehemiah told The New York Times in response.[10] After graduating from Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Nehemiah attended the University of Maryland, where he won three NCAA titles including the 1978-9 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Nehemiah's sophomore year at Maryland proved to be his breakout year. He broke the world record in the 110 meter hurdles twice in two weeks, running 13.16 and then 13.00. He won the 1979 IAAF World Cup and Pan-American Games titles, as well as the second of four U.S. national titles.[1] At the 1979 Penn Relays, Nehemiah anchored UMD's shuttle hurdle relay, 4 × 400 meter relay, and 4 × 200 meter relay, and was named meet MVP.[6] During the relays he recorded an unofficial split of 19.4 seconds in the 4-by-200 meter relay and a 44.3 second split in the 4 × 400 meter relay. Nehemiah described his 400-meter leg as follows:

So, I just ran harder and harder as the noise [of the crowd] got louder. And before I knew it, I could see (Villanova's) Tim Dale and the finish line about 20 meters in front of me. As I was really starting to be overwhelmed by the pain, I dug one more time with all I had, and surged past a fading Dale and believe I won by a couple of meters. [Afterwards] ... I told myself that I would not ever feel that type of pain again in my life. And I never ran another 400-meter again.

— Renaldo Nehemiah[11]

The prohibitive favorite to win the 110-meter hurdles in the 1980 Summer Olympics, he was unable to compete due to a 65-nation boycott of the Games. Nehemiah received one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created for the athletes.[12] At the 1981 Weltklasse meeting in Zürich, Switzerland, Nehemiah broke the world record for the 110 meter hurdles and became the first person to ever run the race in less than 13 seconds. In an interview, Nehemiah explained his race as less than ideal:

I was way out of control over the first hurdle. Then I floated over the second hurdle, and Greg [Foster] caught me going into the third hurdle. From there, I just ran as fast as I could. It was just one of those things where I was just determined to win. I knew that if I could stay out in front, I could make him make a mistake. He's six-foot-three, so if I'm getting crowded between hurdles, I know he's getting crowded trying to chase me. For the first three hurdles I had too much adrenaline; I couldn't control it, so I had to slow myself down. I knew that, technically, I was a better hurdler, faster between and over the hurdles. That's probably what got me ahead of him. It's a different race when you're chasing someone than when you're being chased.

— Renaldo Nehemiah[6]
World Records
No. Event Time Date Year Place
1. 50 m H 6.36 Feb 3 1979 Edmonton
2. 55 m H 6.89 Jan 20 1979 New York
3. 110 m H 13.16 Apr 14 1979 San Jose[1]
4. 110 m H 13.00 May 6 1979 Westwood[1]
5. 50 yd H 5.98 Feb 13 1981 Toronto
6. 110 m H 12.93 Aug 19 1981 Zurich[1]
7. 50 yd H 5.92 Jan 29 1982 Toronto
8. 60 yd H 6.82 Jan 30 1982 Dallas

Pat Connolly, who also coached sprinter Evelyn Ashford, was instrumental in reviving Nehemiah's track career after his short foray in football. Connolly is quoted as saying:

If he had concentrated on athletics he would have matched Harrison Dillard's achievement (double gold in the 100m and 110m hurdles). He clearly could have run under 9.9 in the 100.

— Pat Connolly[13]

She also believed he may have been better suited for the 400 m hurdle event. She is on record as saying:

Based on a 300m I timed in practice, I believe he would still hold the world record in that event (400m hurdles), had he given it a serious try.

— Pat Connolly[13]

Football career

Despite never playing football in college,[14] Nehemiah worked out in 1982 for several NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and New England Patriots; he signed with the 49ers. During his three years as a wide receiver he caught 43 passes for 754 yards, a 17.5 average, and four touchdowns. Nehemiah was deemed expendable in 1985 when the 49ers drafted Jerry Rice in the first round, and he returned to the track in 1986.

The Superstars

Nehemiah was the only four-time winner of The Superstars, a made-for-television decathlon-style competition broadcast by ABC Sports (and during the late 1980s, NBC Sports). He won the event in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1986.


He is currently involved with Athletics Managers, a sports management and marketing agency. Clients he has represented have included Allen Johnson, Mark Crear, Justin Gatlin, Sha'Carri Richardson[15] and 2012 400 meter Olympic Gold Medalist Kirani James.


  1. ^ a b c d e Renaldo Nehemiah.
  2. ^ Renaldo Nehemiah. IAAF
  3. ^ Pawlyna, Andrea (July 2, 1979). "Skeets Nehemiah Knows All About Life's Obstacles: He's the World Champ at Hurdling Over Them". People. Vol. 12, no. 1.
  4. ^ Oden, Bev (September 28, 1998). "Renaldo Nehemiah, Would-be Football Star April 26, 1982".
  5. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE; Nehemiah Wins One". The New York Times. November 10, 1982. p. B8.
  6. ^ a b c "Renaldo Nehemiah: Master of the Art Form", Black Athlete Sports Network, February 8, 2009. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  7. ^ "T&FN High School Boys Athletes Of The Year, 1947–2019". Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  8. ^ "The greatest hurdler who ever lived turns 57 today". In 1977, Nehemiah became National Junior Champion in the 110 and 300 yard hurdle events and was named "High School Athlete of the Year" by Track & Field News.
  9. ^ "Renaldo Nehemiah". National High School Track and Field Hall of Fame.
  10. ^ a b Amdur, Neil. "Scotch Plains Hero —Renaldo Nehemiah". p. 404.
  11. ^ Murphy, Walt (June 2, 2003) "Memories from Penn". Eastern Track News and Results Service. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  12. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry (2008). Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403.
  13. ^ a b "Pat Connolly: on Evelyn, Coaching, and athletics today" by Jonathan Mulkeen, Athletics Weekly website editor, March 2005, Accessed March 1, 2012,
  14. ^ Mihoces, Gary (April 20, 2005). "NFL seeks best players on the court or mat". USA Today. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "Sprinter Richardson left off relay list for Olympics". July 6, 2021. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
Records Preceded by Alejandro Casañas Men's 110m Hurdles World Record Holder April 14, 1979 – August 16, 1989 Succeeded by Roger Kingdom Awards Preceded byPhil Ford ACC Athlete of the Year 1979 Succeeded byJulie Shea Preceded byDwayne Evans Track & Field News High School Boys Athlete of the Year 1977 Succeeded bySanya Owolabi Achievements Preceded by Greg Foster Men's 110m Hurdles Best Year Performance 1979–1981 Succeeded by Greg Foster