Author Topic: The Buffalo Soldier Olympian Whom Patton Called the ‘Best Goddamned Athlete I’ve Ever Seen’  (Read 538 times)

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The Buffalo Soldier Olympian Whom Patton Called the ‘Best Goddamned Athlete I’ve Ever Seen’
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By Matt Fratus | July 27, 2021

Harrison Dillard arrived at the 1948 Summer Olympics — the first Olympics since the 1936 Berlin Games — prepared to run. The remnants of the war in Europe remained, while life moved on in its wake. The composition of the track surface at Wembley Stadium in London contained bomb rubble ground to a powder and blended with the sand and clay.

Dillard, a World War II veteran, took his position, crouching next to five sprinters for the 100-meter dash finals. The gun fired, and 10.3 seconds later, the race was over. Dillard won in a photo finish — an Olympic first.

It was Dillard’s first of four total Olympic gold medals won in 1948 and 1952. Dillard is the only male athlete ever to win Olympic gold medals in both the 100-meter dash and the 110-meter hurdles. As the years went on, though, newer runners received the honorary title of “fastest man alive.” The gold medals Dillard earned were kept stashed away in the closet of his suburban home in Cleveland.

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