The mural pays homage to Segundo Barrio, a military doctor who represented the United States at the Olympics
A new mural at Guillen High School honors El Paso’s first Olympic winner, Javier Montez.
Montez was a Korean War veteran and former track star at Bowie High School and Texas Western College. He represented the United States at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.
In honor of Montez and his accomplishments, a mural by El Paso artist Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado was unveiled on Tuesday on a track bearing Montez’s name at Guillen High School, 900 S. Cotton St.
Montez grew up in the Segundo Barrio district of South El Pason and ran the track at Bowie High School. He was appointed to the El Paso Times All Star team in 1948, the year he graduated.
Montez won a mile run of the Texas State Championship in record time and later attended Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso. He was the first to complete a UTEP degree at the Olympics.
While studying, he set records in the mile run at Texas Relays, the NAIA meeting, and the Border Conference, where he won three titles in 1952: 800, mile, and 2 mile run. This set him up to compete in the world’s biggest sports competition.
Well done at the 1952 Olympics earned him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team later that year at the Helsinki Games, where he ran a 1,500-meter race. He reached the semifinals.
His personal best time in the 1952 1,500-meter race was three minutes 51.1 seconds.
Javier Montez served in the military
Montez later served as an army team leader during the Korean War to earn the rank of lieutenant. He received a degree in electrical engineering from Texas Western and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. He was also a shop steward in the El Paso Independent School District from 1970-1982.
Montez, who died on December 6, 2003, the day after his 74th birthday, is buried in Fort Bliss National Cemetery.
Researcher Trish Long participated in this report.