David “Dave” James Wottle (born August 7, 1950) is a retired American middle-distance track athlete. He was the gold medalist in the 800 meter run at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Leading up to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany….Wottle won the AAU 800 meter title before equaling the world record over 800 meters of 1:44.3 at the US Olympic Trials.
In the Olympic 800 meter final….Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field….staying there for the first 500 m….at which point he started to pass runner after runner up the final straight. He seized the lead in the final stretch to beat pre-race favorite Yevgeny Arzhanov of the Soviet Union by just 0.03 seconds. This gained him the nickname of “The Head Waiter”. (Another nickname was “Wottle the Throttle”). Stunned by his victory….Wottle forgot to remove his cap on the medal stand during the national anthem. This was interpreted by some as a form of protest….but Wottle later apologized at the news conference following the medals ceremony. He also competed in the 1500 meter run at the Munich Olympics, but he was eliminated in the semi-finals.
His signature cap was originally used for practical purposes. He sported long hair at the peak of his career, so the hat kept his hair out of his face. After realizing the cap was part of his identity, and for good luck, he wore it for the remainder of his career.