Lee Calhoun – Two-Time Olympic Gold Medal Winner

Lee Calhoun is an international track and field legend, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and former Western Illinois University head track coach.

He won the AAU championships in 110 m hurdles in 1956 and 1959 and in 120 yd hurdles in 1957. Calhoun is the first athlete to win the 110m hurdles at two different Olympics. At the 1956 Summer Olympics Calhoun surprisingly improved his personal best in 110 m by almost a full second in a final. He ran 13.5 to win the gold medal, edging teammate Jack Davis with a lunge that just got his shoulder across the line in front. He had learned the maneuver from Davis.

Calhoun was suspended in 1958 for receiving gifts on Bride and Groom, a television game show, and seemed to be past his prime for the 1960 Summer Olympics. But shortly before the Rome Olympics, he tied the world record of 13.2 and went to the Olympic Games as a main favourite. In the final, he won in 13.98, beating teammate Willie May by 0.01 seconds.

After retiring from competition, he became a college track coach, first at Grambling State University, then at Yale, and finally at Western Illinois University. He was an assistant Olympic coach at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

He was elected to the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974. Lee Calhoun passed away in Erie, Pennsylvania, aged 56.