Frank Charles Shorter (born October 31, 1947) is an American former long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics….followed by the silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. His Olympic successes, along with the achievements of other American runners, are credited with igniting the running boom in the United States during the 1970’s…which has continued to expand to 2016….I mean, just look at the running shoe business in the world today.
Shorter first achieved distinction by winning the 1969 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 10,000-meter title during his senior year at Yale. He won his first U.S. national titles in 1970 in the 5000-meter and 10,000-meter events. He also was the U.S. national 10,000-meter champion in 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1977. After graduating from Yale, Shorter chose to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of New Mexico. However, he dropped out after six weeks…..and soon there after…..he moved to Florida and studied for a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville….cuz he wanted to be close to train with fellow runner Jack Bacheler as members of the Florida Track Club (FTC)….which was founded by Jimmy Carnes….then the head coach of the Florida Gators track and field team. Bacheler was regarded as America’s best distance runner….having qualified for the finals of the 5,000-meter race at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.The FTC’s core nucleus of Shorter, Bacheler and Jeff Galloway qualified for the 1972 Olympics….as their success made Gainesville the Mecca of distance running on the East Coast in the early 1970’s.
Shorter won the U.S. national cross-country championships four times (1970, 1971, 1972, 1973). He was the U.S. Olympic Trials champion in both the 10,000-meter run and the marathon in both 1972 and 1976. He also won both the 10,000-meter run and the marathon at the 1971 Pan American Games. Shorter was a four-time winner of the Fukuoka Marathon in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974….as this race was generally recognized as the most prestigious marathon in the world at that time. He was successful on the road racing circuit as well, winning the Peachtree Road Race in 1977 and the Falmouth Road Race in 1975 and 1976.
Shorter’s greatest recognition was as a marathon runner….being the only American athlete to win two medals in the Olympic marathon. After finishing 5th the the Olympic 10K….he won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany….which was the city of his birth. This ultimate achievement was marred by an impostor….West German student Norbert Sudhaus….running into Olympic Stadium ahead of Shorter….who was not bothered by the silence from the crowd who had been duped into thinking that he was running for the silver medal. Shorter was confident that he was going to win the gold medal because he knew that no competing runner had passed him.
He received the James E. Sullivan Award afterward as the top amateur athlete in the United States.After dropping out of the 10,000 meters to concentrate exclusively on the marathon, he won the silver medal in the event at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal….finishing second behind previously unheralded gold medalist Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany.Cierpinski was later implicated as a part of the state-sponsored doping program by East German track and field research files uncovered by Werner Franke at the Stasi headquarters in Leipzig in the late 1990’s. There were suspicions about other East German athletes during the Montreal Olympics….including the East German women, led by Kornelia Ender, who won eleven of the thirteen swimming events.
From 2000 to 2003, Shorter was the chairman of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, a body that he helped to establish.