Barbara Lockhart, a two-time Olympian and retired BYU exercise science professor, was inducted into the U.S. Speedskating Hall of Fame.
Lockhart continued to give back to speedskating after her competitive years and her achievements led to her nomination and selection for the Hall of Fame.
Chuck Burke, Olympian and fellow U.S. team member, is proud of Lockhart’s accomplishments.
“Barb was always very well respected as a skater and person. She was always one of the top skaters at that time. She is well deserving of this honor of being inducted into the USS Hall of Fame,” Burke said.
Helen Smiley, Lockhart’s older sister, wrote a nomination letter for the award. She credited her parents as one reason for Lockhart’s success, as they were both athletes themselves and very supportive of their children. In fact, it was their father who gave Lockhart her first pair of speed skates.
According to Lockhart, she was a fast runner as a child, and at eight years old her dad gave her a pair of skates thinking she might like to do something in the winter. Lockhart took her skates to the park and started racing the boys, who teased her about her skates.
Unbeknownst to her, national speedskating champion Elaine Gordon lived nearby and saw Lockhart skating. Gordon asked Lockhart to join her club, got Lockhart better skates and coached her for a year.
“She was just a little tyke, braids flying behind her as she skated. She was cute as could be,” Smiley said. “She won every race she ever was in. She was just spirited and truly deserving.”
Lockhart moved away and stopped training with Gordon, but her passion for skating continued and her parents supported her through high school. Lockhart qualified for the 1960 Olympic Games during her senior year, making her the first woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic team in speedskating.
The 1960 games were the first to include women’s speedskating as an Olympic event. At the games, Lockhart won the first race for women, and went on to compete in the 1964 Olympics as well.
Smiley, who has been involved in athletics and worked as an athletic director, said in those times girls and women did not have the opportunities they have now.
“For what she did at her age and in those first years of the American women’s skating, she is a pioneer and she’s truly a person to be honored,” Smiley said.
Smiley also mentioned Lockhart’s competitive spirit, talent, hard work and discipline as factors that led to her success and induction into the hall of fame.
In conjunction with her speedskating achievements, Lockhart continued her education receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. Lockhart also joined The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter Day Saints during her college years.
Lockhart played field hockey and basketball in college, according to her sister, and was competitive in those sports as well. After an injury prevented Lockhart from competing in the 1968 Olympics, BYU asked her to attend the university to receive her doctorate.
Lockhart then became a professor, and taught at Temple University and the University of Iowa before returning to BYU to teach exercise science. Lockhart said one thing she loved about teaching at BYU was being able to incorporate religion into her teaching, which she could not do at other universities.
“The students were so receptive to feeling the Spirit in class,” Lockhart said. “They would thank me and say, oh I really felt the Spirit today. And it just meant the world to me to have that happen.”
Lockhart retired from teaching in 2017, but continues to work with BYU faculty on the Science of Wellness class and helped write the online text for the course.
Smiley said Lockhart has been a leader in physical education and in the Church.
“She’s been a leader in everything she’s done,” Smiley said.
Lockhart’s contributions to the world of speedskating continued throughout her life. When the Olympics came to Utah in 2002, Lockhart was a member of the speedskating long track organizing committee, a track steward, a torch bearer and the chairman of the ethics committee.
“Barb was a great skater,” Gene Sandvig, fellow Olympian and ISU technical committee member said, “but I don’t know how many people are aware that she was instrumental in bringing her energy and knowledge of speedskating to Utah. When Salt Lake City was granted the 2002 Olympic Games, Barb was one of the few former skaters that lived locally and had extensive knowledge of our sport. We really appreciated her stepping up to help us.”
Lockhart said she is grateful for everything speedskating has given her and the health benefits she enjoys from having trained so hard in her youth. She said speedskating taught her how to set goals, meet obstacles and persevere.
“It’s had such a huge impact on my life. I thought it would stop when I stopped competing but it’s gone on all through my whole life. So it’s been wonderful. And it’s fun to give back too,” Lockhart said.
Lockhart does not think it was an accident Elaine Gordon was at the park that day and saw her skating, and said it was part of her life plan. Lockhart joined other famous speedskaters in the hall of fame, including her first coach.