Bob Mathias (November 17, 1930 – September 2, 2006) was an American decathlete….who was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the event…..a United States Marine Corps officer…..Hollywood actor…. and United States Congressman representing the state of California. Mathias was born in Tulare, California….where he attended Tulare Union High School….when he was a classmate and long time friend of Sim Iness….who was the 1952 Olympic discus gold medalist. While at Tulare Union in early 1948, Mathias took up the decathlon at the suggestion of his track coach, Virgil Jackson….then during the summer following his high school graduation at age 17….that’s when he qualified for the United States Olympic team for the 1948 Summer Olympics held in London, England.
Olympics – 1948 + 1952 – London & Helsinki Games – Special Film – “Fundamentals of Track and Field” – Staring Bob Mathias
In the Olympics, Mathias’s naïveté about the decathlon was exposed. He was unaware of the rules in the shot put and nearly fouled out of the event….plus, he almost failed in the high jump….but was able to recover…..as Mathias overcame his difficulties….and with a superior pole vault and javelin scores was able to push past Ignace Heinrich to win the Olympic gold medal…..when at age 17, he became the youngest gold medalist in a track and field event. Mathias continued to fare well in decathlons in the four years between the London games and the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki…..albeit in 1948, Mathias won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete….but because his scholastic record in high school did not match his athletic achievement….that’s when he spent a year at The Kiski School, a well-respected all-boys boarding school in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. He then entered Stanford University in 1949….and played college football for two years. Mathias set his first decathlon world record in 1950….and led Stanford to a Rose Bowl appearance in 1952….which was the first nationally televised college football game. After graduating from Stanford in 1953 with a BA in Education, Mathias spent two and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was promoted to the rank of captain and was honorably discharged.
Olympics – 1930 To 2006 – Special Film – “The Life & Times Of Olympic Track Hero Bob Mathias”
Olympics – 1952 – Helsinki Games Highlights – Featuring USA Gold Medal Winners – With Bob Mathias Winning @nd Olympic Gold In Decathlon
At Helsinki in 1952, Mathias established himself as one of the world’s greatest all-around athletes. He won the decathlon by the astounding margin of 912 points, which established a new world record, and he became the first person to successfully defend an Olympic decathlon title. He returned to the United States as a national hero. His 7,887 point total at the Helsinki Olympics remained the school record at Stanford for 63 years until it was broken in 2015 by a freshman, Harrison Williams. In 1952, he was the first person to compete in an Olympics and a Rose Bowl the same year. After the 1952 Olympics, Mathias retired from athletic competition. He later became the first director of the United States Olympic Training Center, a post he held from 1977 to 1983.
Olympics – 1948 & 1952 – London & Helsinki Games – Special Film – Olympic Decathlon: USA Bob Mathias