Longtime track and field coach Linda Lanker jokes that her paychecks are deposited into her gas tank, not her bank account.
Lanker makes the daily commute from her Coeur d’Alene home to Spokane Falls Community College, coaching the Sasquatch hurdlers in the morning.
In the afternoon, Lanker, a decadeslong fixture in the region’s track and field scene, is back in North Idaho, offering her bountiful knowledge at Coeur d’Alene High.
One of her prized athletes is Vikings record-setting senior Nate Burch, favored to win an Idaho 5A State title in Boise next weekend. He will also run for Lanker next year at CCS.
Lanker, 63, enjoys more time these days with her five grandchildren, but she’s rarely far from a row of hurdles.
“It’s so much fun, I just can’t say no,” said Lanker, a three-time masters national hurdles champion and Washington State Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee.
“I love helping kids. It keeps me young.”
She’s helping some of the best adult sprinters in the world, too.
Lanker is in Yokohama, Japan, this week coaching the United States’ men’s and women’s sprinters at Saturday and Sunday’s IAAF World Relays, an assembly of some of the globe’s most decorated speedsters.
Fifty-six countries are in the field. The international events will include men’s and women’s 400 relay, 800 relay, mixed 1,600 relay and shuttle hurdle relay.
Lanker is coaching a USA team that features six Olympians, several world and USATF champions and 14 NCAA national champions.
One of Lanker’s athletes this weekend is 2004 Olympic 100-meter gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist Justin Gatlin.
“It’s a great group of athletes and I feel very fortunate to be able to coach them,” said Lanker, who won NCAA national championships as a hurdler at Arizona State in the 1970s.
Lanker dedicates most of her time to developing young athletes in the Spokane area, but she has been coaching on the world stage for more than a decade.
In recent years, Lanker was the head coach of the U20 Pan American team that won the 2017 team title in Trujillo, Peru. Last year, Lanker coached the USA team at the Athletics World Cup in London.
“When I first got into coaching, it was mostly men coaching the women,” Lanker said. “But I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of great male athletes over the years, and they’ve been great to work with.”
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