1985 Hall of Fame Inductee
Raimo Pihl came to BYU from his homeland of Sweden in 1971. Like other Swedish athletes, Raimo chose Brigham Young University because of its great athletic program and its outstanding academic offerings.
Though his athletic background was in the javelin (before coming to BYU Raimo had been a two-time Swedish javelin champion), he injured his elbow the summer before his first season at BYU, so he turned, instead, to the decathlon-and a star was born.
While competing for BYU, Raimo took first place in that event at the 1973 and 1975 NCAA championships, and came in second in the 1975 WAC championships in both javelin and decathlon. Then, he went to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, where he came in fourth in the decathlon, slowed down by a near fall after hitting a hurdle, which cost him his chance at the bronze.
Raimo was described by BYU head track coach, Clarence Robison, as "very intelligent, and a great competitor." At the Montreal Olympics, Raimo had not been performing at his best in the pole vault, but his "tremendously competitive nature" pushed him on until finally, on his third attempt, he cleared the crossbar and went on to clear the next three consecutive heights.
His experience at BYU gave Raimo a great respect for the coaching staff, training facilities, and workout capabilities available here. Because of that respect, he came back to BYU for six weeks in 1976 to work out and prepare himself as much as possible for the Olympics.