Derrick R. Adkins (born July 2, 1970) is a former American athlete, an Olympic gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1996 Summer Olympics and a World Champion from the 1995 World Championships in Athletics.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Adkins was raised in Lakeview, New York in Long Island where he attended Malverne High School, graduating in 1988. That year he was ranked as the number one high school 400-meter hurdler in the nation, having run the race in 50.71 seconds. He attended Georgia Tech where he earned a bachelor's degree at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in June 1993. Coached by Buddy Fowlkes and Grover Hinsdale at Georgia Tech, he became a six-time All American in the 400-meter hurdles and in the 4×400-meter relay.
At the 1995 World Championships in Goteborg, Sweden, Adkins won the gold narrowly ahead of his career long rival Samuel Matete from Zambia in a time of 47.98 seconds. In the beginning of the 1996 season Matete beat Adkins four times in a row. Then just before the Games in Atlanta, Adkins defeated Matete in the Paris Grand Prix at the Stade de France in a time of 47.70.
At the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Adkins won the gold medal in a time of 47.54, beating Matete by 0.24 seconds.
In his career Adkins broke the 48-second barrier 20 times. He is one of the few hurdlers who have won back-to-back gold medals in the World Championships and Olympic Games. He was a two-time USA National Champion in 1994 and 1995. He was a two-time winner of the Weltklasse Zurich meet, having won the 1995 meet in a time of 47.65 seconds. He was a two-time winner of the Millrose Games in the 500 meters having run 1:01.71 at Madison Square Garden. He has set stadium records and meet records at the Penn Relays, the Lucerne Grand Prix (47.68), the Linz Grand Prix (47.70), and the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia (47.86).
In October 1996 local authorities of his hometown of Lakeview lobbied to change the name of the street where he was raised, from Seneca Road to Derrick Adkins Lane. Regarding the street re-naming, Adkins stated years later, “I should have not agreed to it, but local politicians put a lot of pressure on me. The thought of it has always made me nervous.”
Adkins was an assistant coach at Columbia University between 2004 and 2006. While coaching at Columbia his athletes set seven school records, and won seven Ivy League individual-event championships.
He served as the director of The Armory Track and Field Center between 2006 and 2011. During his time at The Armory the organization began hosting more than 100 track meets per year. He was instrumental in the development of Armory College Prep, an after-school program for New York City student-athletes. He was influential in the decision move to bring the Millrose Games from Madison Square Garden to The Armory where it continues to be staged annually. From 2012 to 2016, he served as an outreach representative and manager of training for New York Road Runners.
In 2009, Adkins was arrested for driving while intoxicated. He admits to having suffered a long-term battle with clinical depression and alcohol addiction.
In 2013, Adkins was falsely-arrested for obstruction of governmental administration. The charges were immediately dismissed. The initial charge was that he was running and walking in the wrong lanes on a boardwalk. In court, it was acknowledged that there were never any lanes on the boardwalk. In a statement Adkins stated, “It was a case of police misconduct. I may have been guilty of driving while intoxicated in the past, but I was not guilty of this.”
Regarding alcohol addiction, Adkins credits his Christian faith for recovery. He has stated “Faith-based counseling has helped me more than anything else.” He is currently employed by Nyack College, a Christian college in New York where he is planning to pursue a master’s degree in urban ministry counseling at Nyack’s Alliance Theological Seminary.