The Maine Games has renamed its track-and-field meet in honor of the 2004 Maine Games/New Balance male athlete of the year, John “Buster” Byrnes of Lincolnville. Starting with this year’s meet at the University of Maine at Orono, held on Saturday, June 25, this track-and-field meet will be known as the Buster Byrnes Relays.

Jeff Scully, Maine Games executive director, said Byrnes has distinguished himself as one of the organization’s strongest supporters and prolific athletes. Between 2004 and 2008, Byrnes established or set more than 25 different Maine Games track-and-field records, as well as establishing meet records in two swimming events (2005), and one in powerlifting (2005) as well.

“Buster has been one of the athletes I have come to know very well, not just because he’s competed in several different events, but also because he has been such a great ambassador for our organization, Scully said.

The 69-year-old Byrnes has been recognized as a USA Track and Field Masters All-American, having reached the highest standard of achievement in the following events: triple jump, high jump, hammer throw, pole vault, discus, long jump, weight pentathlon (javelin, shot put, discus, hammer throw, weight throw) and the weight throw at the 25-pound weight, the 35-pound weight and the 56-pound weight. He is a national champion in the triple jump, the pole vault and the high jump, as well, and according to his own estimate, has earned more than 35 medals at national indoor and outdoor championships.

“I don’t know of any Maine Games athlete more deserving of this type of recognition, than Buster,” said Scully. “I think that as time rolls on, more and more athletes will come to appreciate all that this man has accomplished in his sport, but perhaps more importantly, in all sport. Buster is a true Renaissance Man when it comes to athletics. He throws, he jumps, he swims, and he even bench presses. There probably aren’t too many sports he hasn’t tried, and even fewer in which he didn’t excel.”

Byrnes has served as a track-and-field coach for perhaps thousands of high school students over the years, as a mentor to many, and as an inspiration to everyone, Scully said. “Buster represents the best of the Maine Games; he loves the competition, but I think he loves the camaraderie, and sportsmanship even more,” said Scully.

A brief recognition ceremony will be held at this year’s Buster Byrnes Relays, and all in attendance will have an opportunity to express their admiration and congratulations to to him.

To learn more about the Maine Games, or to register for the 2011 Buster Byrnes Relays, or any other Maine Games event in 2011, go online at mainegames.org.

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at sports@villagesoup.com.