A man speaks at a podium
O.J. Logue speaks at Deer Isle-Stonington High School in Deer Isle in 2014. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

The 1981 Deaflympics are the more memorable aspects of O.J. Logue’s running career, when he traveled to Cologne, West Germany, as Maine’s first Deaf Olympian and raced in three track and field events.

Sixth-place finishes in the 10K and 25K runs and a seventh in the 5K were the competitive highlights, along with personal-best times at both 5K (15:01) and 10K (31:36).

Just as important to Logue was simply the chance to represent his country, and now four decades later the same event is providing the Southwest Harbor resident a similar opportunity as he serves as USA Deaf Track and Field distance-running coach for the 2022 Deaflympics now underway in Caxias do Sul, Brazil.

Athletes from more than 100 countries will compete in 200 Deaflympic events covering 17 sports ranging from handball and badminton to soccer, swimming and basketball.

Track and field competition is scheduled to begin Thursday.

“One of my [runners] next to me has his USA jacket on,” said Logue between flights to the Deaflympics at a Miami airport. “It’s something you just can’t describe, being able to represent your country. For me it was just a tremendous experience, I made some great friends there.”

Logue also competed in the 1985 Deaflympics in Los Angeles, though an ankle injury forced him to drop out of the marathon. Four years later he qualified for the Deaflympics in New Zealand but did not make the trip due to a family illness.

Dr. O.J. Logue. Credit: Contributed

Now 66, Logue looks forward to leading four American distance runners to Deaflympics success in southern Brazil.

“It’s just a very humbling, wonderful experience, and I’ve always believed in paying it forward,” said Logue, who was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Deaf Long Distance Runners Hall of Fame in 2012.

“It’s going to be extremely competitive with Kenyans and Europeans in the fields, and some of them also have run for their hearing Olympic teams, too.”

Logue was one of the state’s top distance runners and part of three state championship track teams at Orono High School during the early 1970s, then qualified for the 1975 NAIA cross country national championships while a sophomore at the University of Southern Maine.

He went on to become a top competitor on the state’s road-racing circuit and was the fastest  Maine finisher at the 1981 Boston Marathon in 2:26:06.

His coaching career has included stops at Bangor High School, Orono High School and the University of Maine, and most recently as an assistant track coach at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor and his current post as cross country coach at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.

He also founded the Acadian Running Camp held on Mount Desert Island each summer since  2012.

Logue’s debut as a distance running coach for USA Deaf Track and Field at the Deaflympics originally was slated to take place in Brazil last December, but the event was pushed back due to COVID-19 complications.

Most of Logue’s pre-Deaflympic coaching with his runners was conducted remotely, though they did spend a week working out together last summer at Acadia National Park.

Logue expects conditions for the runners to be favorable as it is autumn in Caxias do Sul, a city of 520,000 located in the southern hemisphere near Brazil’s border with Uruguay.

“It won’t be hot,” he said. “It’s their cooler season, which is great for the runners. Usually we race in July but this is their fall season so they won’t be hit with a lot of heat.”

Logue said among the challenges his athletes will face at the Deaflympics is that they won’t be able to use the cochlear implants they use to hear during day-to-day life.

“When you race no one is allowed to wear hearing aids or cochlear implants so I can’t yell instructions to them or anything,” he said. “They want to make it equal so no one has an advantage because these are all profoundly deaf individuals.

“It’s a whole different experience because you don’t hear a runner coming up behind you or you can’t hear me yelling, ‘Move out,’ or anything else. I’ve got to be quite animated if I want them to pick up the pace.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...