Olympic champion, Cleveland native Harrison Dillard dies at 96

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Olympic champion Harrison Dillard died at the Cleveland Clinic Friday afternoon after being hospitalized for a week, according to the USA Track & Field organization.  He was 96 years old.

Dillard had reportedly been suffering from the effects of stomach cancer.

He was the oldest living U.S. Olympic gold medal-winner and to this day is the only man to ever win Olympic gold medals in both the sprints and high hurdles.

During his career, he won four Olympic gold medals. In 1948 he won gold for the 100 yard dash and set clocked an Olympic record at 10.30.  He also won gold in the 110 yard hurdles in 1952 in 13.70, as well as in the 4x100 relays in 1948 and 1952.

USATF released the following statement:

“We are saddened to learn of Harrison’s Dillard’s death after a battle with cancer. His legacy as a gold medalist in the 100 yard sprint and 110 yard hurdles remains as an amazing achievement. Our sport has lost someone special and our condolences go out to his family and friends.”

The Cleveland native began hurdling at eight years old.

At age 13 he met triple-gold-medalist Jesse Owens upon his return from the 1936 Olympics at a parade in downtown.  Owens reportedly gave Dillard his first pair of running shoes.

Dillard attended Baldwin-Wallace College and won four national collegiate titles in the high and low hurdles during his time there.  After winning 82-straight hurdles races, he qualified for the 1948 Olympic team.

The organization says memorial services are pending.

More on Harrison Dillard, here.

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