Rainey Is Thinclads' Renaissance Woman

Track's Meredith Rainey

Some Harvard students do a lot of activities and do them all fairly well. Some other students have chosen to become a standout in just one or two specific areas.

Then again, there are those who somehow manage to master it all, to be a standout in everything they're involved in and still have their heads screwed on straight.

You don't know one?

Then meet Meredith Rainey, the star sprinter on the Harvard track team.

The Brooklyn native is not your traditional Renaissance woman.


Not only is she a Big Sister in Phillips Brooks House's Academy Homes program, but she also participates in the Harvard/Radcliffe Foundation for Women's Athletics, excells in academics, and she will begin teaching English classes at night to Cambridge high school students.

If that doesn't impress you, she also runs the fastest 400, 200 and 55 meters any woman has ever run at Harvard.

Stormin' Meredith

In her freshman year of college, after a five-year absence from running at any organized level, Rainey joined the Harvard track team as a walk-on and proceeded to take the Eastern track world by storm.

She began running in third grade after finishing third out of hundreds of other little track hopefuls in a five-week competition, she caught the attention of renowned track coach Fred Thompson, who would go on to become the 1988 Women's Olympic sprint team coach. Thompson coached her in the Adams Track Club, where she built the foundation for a successful track career over a four-year period.

"He taught me how to run," Rainey says of her off-season coach. "My form is pretty good because, at an early age, I learned how to do it right."

She has always had the luxury of tremendous support and encouragement from her family-on and off the track.

"My family has flown all over to see me run," Rainey says. "My mother especially has been wonderful. She's the biggest influence in my life."

After an extremely promising seventh grade year in which she ran the 400 meters in a little over 60 seconds and made it to the finals in the Junior Nationals, Rainey put her spikes on the back shelf and ventured out into other activities and sports, including basketball and volleyball.

When Rainey arrived at Harvard after turning down Yale and several other Ivies, she was motivated to run track by the large number of her peers who were involved in athletics. So she pulled out those spikes and headed across the river to Gordon Indoor Track.