Robert Howard (November 26, 1975 in Brooklyn, New York – August 14, 2004 in Little Rock, Arkansas) was an American world-class triple and long jumper and a nine-time NCAA collegiate champion.

High school

Howard graduated from Shea High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1994. His top triple jump while competing in the high school ranks was 51-5.75 (15.69m). He received the Tom Doherty Memorial Award as the state's male athlete of the year.

Collegiate career

In choosing a college, Howard elected to follow in the lengthy horizontal jumping tradition at the University of Arkansas, where he would follow in the footsteps of such luminary jumpers as Mike Conley, Sr., Edrick Floreal, Jérôme Romain, Brian Wellman and Erick Walder.

Putting his own stamp on the track program, Howard won nine individual collegiate championships while jumping for Arkansas:[1]

Event Years won
NCAA Indoor Triple Jump 1996, 1997, 1999
NCAA Indoor Long Jump 1997
NCAA Outdoor Triple Jump 1996, 1997, 1998
NCAA Outdoor Long Jump 1997, 1998

During this time, the Razorback team, under the guidance of legendary coach John McDonnell, itself won seven of the eight available NCAA team titles, indoors and out.

Howard competed at the 1997 World University Games, finishing third in the triple jump. In 1997, he was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News magazine for winning all four jumps in the two NCAA championship competitions.

All of Howard's personal records were set while he was a collegian:[2]

Event Outdoors best Year Indoors best Year
Triple Jump 17.11m 1998 17.04m 1997
Long Jump 8.40m 1997 8.16m 1997

Howard graduated from the university in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in pre-medicine/microbiology.

Professional career

In 1999, Howard missed the majority of the season with an injury.

Howard qualified for the US Olympic team in the triple jump twice, making the finals in both Atlanta and Sydney. He finished seventh in 1996 and eighth in 2000. He won the triple jump competition at the 2000 Olympic Trials with a leap of 55-9 (16.99). His best finish in USATF competitions was a second in the triple jump in 2001.

Admitted to medical school in 1999, Howard worked in his jumping around his schooling, studying at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to be a neurosurgeon. He had deferred his medical studies for one year to train for the 2000 Olympics and again for the 2004 Olympics. He finished fifth in the 2004 Olympic Trials, falling short in his attempt to make the Olympic team for the third time.


During his career, Howard was ranked among the top jumpers in the US by Track and Field News.[3]

Year Event World rank US rank
1996 Triple Jump 10th 3rd
1997 Triple Jump - 2nd
Long Jump - 7th
1998 Triple Jump - 2nd
Long Jump - 9th
1998 Triple Jump - 2nd
Long Jump - 9th
2000 Triple Jump - 1st
Long Jump - 5th
2001 Triple Jump - 3rd
Long Jump - 9th
2002 Triple Jump - 9th


On August 14, 2004, shortly after his failure to make the Olympic team and in the opening hours of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Howard violently murdered his wife, Robin Mitchell, the chief neurosurgery resident at UAMS, and later leapt to his death from the 10th story of a medical school dormitory. Police found Mitchell dead in the couple's bed with dozens of stab wounds to the head and torso.[4][5][6][7]


  1. ^ Razorback Track & Field Media Guide
  2. ^ Robert Howard at World Athletics
  3. ^ "Track and Field News: Archive". Archived from the original on 2012-09-22. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  4. ^ Associated Press: Ex-Olympian believed to have killed wife, jumped to death. August 16, 2004
  5. ^ "Olympian haunted by failures, suicide note says – Olympics –". Archived from the original on 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  6. ^ – McDonnell 'saddened' on news of Howard tragedy
  7. ^ ESPN Story on death