James Li Named UA Cross Country Coach

June 14, 2002

TUCSON - James Li, head coach at Washington State since 1998, has been named cross country and distance running coach at the University of Arizona.

Li, 40, worked with the WSU track and field and cross country programs for more than 10 years. He received a master's degree at Pullman in 1987 and a doctorate in 1993.

He has previous coaching experience at the Sichuan Sports Technique Institute, was a Provincial Team coach from 1983 to 1985, and joined the WSU staff in 1985 as a graduate assistant coach. He was head track and field coach at Mankato State from 1990-94. He rejoined the Cougar staff in 1994 as a track and field assistant, and was named head cross country coach in 1998.

Li, a native of the People's Republic of China, was a middle distance runner during his youth and collegiate days at the Beijing Institute of Physical Education, from which he graduated in 1981. He won the collegiate 800 meters title in 1979 was ranked seventh in China in 1980 and ninth in 1982.

He coached nine Cougars to All-America and or Pacific-10 Conference championships. Behind Li's guidance, Cougar distance great Bernard Lagat won the bronze medal in the 1500 meters at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and a silver medal at the 2001 IAAF World Championships.

Fred Harvey, director of track and field and cross country at the UA, said Li's appointment is a big plus for the Wildcat programs. 'We're very excited to have someone of James Li's caliber come to Arizona. James' philosophy of developing speed and power in distance runners matches my own emphasis in distance training. His abilities as a coach will honor the accomplishments that (longtime UA mentor) Dave Murray brought to the programs.

'He has coached world class athletes and I'm confident that he'll coach many more here at Arizona,' Harvey said.

Li was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, and naturalized as an American citizen in May 1998. He and his wife, Jean, have two sons, Allen, 12, and Anthony, 10.

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