An outstanding track & field athlete and coach, Percy Beard was a world-class hurdler who later became the long-time coach at the University of Florida.
As a collegiate high hurdler at Auburn University, Percy Beard learned from fellow USTFCCCA Hall of Famer Wilbur Hutsell. Like USTFCCCA Hall of Famer “Weems” Baskin, who preceded Beard at Auburn by only a few years, Beard competed post-collegiately for the New York Athletic Club, setting a world record of 14.2 in the 120 yard high hurdles in 1931 and tying the record in 1934. Beard eventually became a seven-time National AAU high hurdles champion and Silver Medalist at the 1932 Olympic Games, finishing second to U.S. teammate George Saling.
In 1937, Beard turned his talents to coaching as the head coach at the University of Florida, where he also later served as an assistant athletic director. Among the talented athletes Beard coached were two-time NCAA high jump champion J. Lewis Hall and NCAA pole vault champion Earl Poucher. Beard’s teams won two outdoor SEC championships and finished as runners-up four times. Beard retired from full-time coaching in 1963.
Beard also used his civil engineering education to become a pioneer in the development of all-weather tracks, and the University of Florida track is named in his honor. He began the Florida Relays in 1939, and in 1959, the University of Florida unveiled the first all-weather track surface in the world at the Relays. Beard’s accomplishments are honored in the USATF Hall of Fame.