Aug. 14, 2012
Gabe Tiacoh (tee-ah-coe) was announced as a 2012 inductee into the Washington State Athletic Hall of Fame just last week. He has held the WSU and Mooberry Track 400m dash record for 26 years so it is fitting that we look closely at his career for the next Memorable Mooberry Moments.
Tiacoh was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast but grew up in Epinay, France and while in high school won the French junior 400m title. He spent two years at the University of Paris, winning the French senior title in the 400m dash, and was a member of the Ivory Coast 1600m relay that finished third in the African Championships. He arrived in Pullman in the Fall of 1983 as a sophomore and was undefeated in the 400m during the spring of 1984.
WSU hosted the 1984 Pac-10 Championships and at that meet Tiacoh won the 400m title in a Mooberry Track record time of 45.24 seconds, anchored the 4x400m relay with a come from behind 100m sprint to win that title, and ran the fourth-fastest 200m in school history of 20.71 seconds in the semifinals. That year he was undefeated in the 400m until the NCAA Championships where he placed seventh in the final.
At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, Tiacoh won his three preliminary 400m heats, ran a school-record time of 44.54 in the final and captured the Silver medal, the first Olympic medal for anyone from the Ivory Coast. As a junior he strung together another series of undefeated 400m races including the Pac-10 title and finished third at the NCAA Championships in spite of being ill the day of the final.
In 1986, Tiacoh's senior year, he captured every 200m and 400m race he ran indoors and outdoors. He won his third consecutive Pac-10 title in the 400m and finally grabbed the NCAA title too in an incredible time of 44.30 which was a PR, school, meet and collegiate record. Tiacoh was ranked number one in the world at the 400m at the end of the season. He had 13 sub-45.00 seconds races in his career, the most by any 400m specialist, and nine of those times were run in 1986, the most ever in one year. His eight consecutive sub-45.00 seconds races was also a record.
His blazing speed and impeccable work ethic made Tiacoh a natural anchor for the 1600m relay and his 1985 squad still holds the school record time of 3:05.58. During Tiacoh's career at WSU, the Cougar men's track teams were runners up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships three times.
Tiacoh was named Track and Field News most prolific 400m runner of all time (excluding times recorded at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics), recording four of the fastest times ever run (excluding altitude races).
Tiacoh received his BA in economics in 1985 and an MBA in 1991. Unfortunately, in 1992 he died in Atlanta of viral meningitis at age 29.