Doug Padilla: Mormon Athlete

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Doug Padilla Mormon Athlete
Doug Padilla running during the 1987 World Championships in Rome. Courtesy Deseret News

Doug Padilla is a world-class middle- and long-distance runner who was known for his ability to outkick many other world-class runners. He was born on October 4, 1956, and grew up in San Leandro, California. He attended Chabot Junior College before transferring to Brigham Young University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. While at BYU, he was All-American at the NCAA Championships in Wisconsin (placing 34th in 1978) and Kansas (placing 15th in1980) and eventually earned eight All-America citations. He won the 1981 NCAA indoor two-mile title, becoming the first American since 1972 to win an NCAA indoor distance race.

From 1983 to 1987, Padilla won five consecutive national indoor championships, four national outdoor championships, and two U.S. Olympic trials. He competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where he placed seventh in the 5,000 meters (he had placed first in the trials). He also competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He won the IAFF World overall Grand Prix Champion (1985) and the World Cup 5,000-meter race in 1985 and in the1986 Goodwill Games.

Six times Padilla has been one of the world's top indoor distance runners (1982–1986, 1990). He was Outdoor Mobil Grand Prix champion in 1985 and twice champion of the 5,000-meter race (1985 and 1987). In 1990 he was the Indoor USA/Mobil Grand Prix Champion, awarded to the most productive racer of the season. In the eight-week, 11-meet Mobil Grand Prix circuit, he was the best overall male performer in any event.

As of 1991, he was the only runner to break the four-minute-mile barrier inside the state of Utah. He was inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame in 1991.

Padilla is an Eagle Scout and served a full-time mission to El Salvador (from 1976 to 1978) for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He retired from BYU in 2014, where he had served as Track and Field Director of Operations. He and his wife, Lynette, are the parents of four children.