John Gates Powell (born June 25, 1947) is an American track and field athlete who specialized in the discus throw. He set a world record at 69.08 meters in 1975, and his personal best of 71.26 meters ties him for ninth place in the all-time performers list.
Powell was a four-time member of the American Olympic Team. Powell finished fourth at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, won a bronze medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, and was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team which did not compete in Russia due to the 1980 Summer Olympics boycott. He did however receive one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the spurned athletes. He won the bronze medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Some track and field competitions in 1987 appear to have been Powell's last ones on the international level – and then he was banished from high-level competitions after taking part in a forbidden track and field tour to apartheid-era South Africa. Powell still runs several annual weight-throwing camps with his fellow Olympian weight throwers. Powell also still "teaches" a few of his young champion-level throwers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, nearly every week.
In 2019, he was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. His speech at the induction ceremony exhibited he could have been as successful as a stand up comedian.
- Fourth with 62.82 in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich
- First with 62.37 in the 1975 Pan American Games
- Third with 65.70 in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal
- Third with 65.46 in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles
- Second with 66.22 in the 1987 World Championships in Athletics in Rome
Powell is a seven time US-champion in Discus throw in 1974, 1975, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987