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Mal Whitfield
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    (October 11, 1924-November 18, 2015)
    Born in Bay City, Texas
    At the 1948 London Olympics, won gold medals in 800 meters and the 4x400 relay and a bronze medal in 400 meters
    At the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, won a gold medal in 800 meters and a silver medal in the 4x400 meter relay
    After retiring from competition, became a 'sports ambassador' for the US State Department and US Information Service
    Inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame (1974) and US Olympic Hall of Fame (1988)
    Nicknamed 'Marvelous Mal'
    Father of CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield
    He snuck into the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch Olympic races (1932).
    He was prevented from winning the 1953 Sullivan Award (given to the outstanding amateur athlete in the US), because of allegations that he had demanded fees to run at meets in Europe.
    His first wife asked for a restraining order after filing for divorce on charges of 'extreme cruelty.' (1952)
    While married to his second wife, he fathered a son with an American aid worker in Kenya (1986).
    His father died when he was four and his mother died when he was twelve, after which he was raised by his older sister.
    He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and a tail gunner during the Korean War.
    While in Korea, he prepared for the Olympics by training on the runways between bombing runs.
    Harrison Dillard, a gold medalist in 100 meters, said, 'He and Jesse Owens were probably the two smoothest runners you could possibly want to see.'
    He won the Sullivan Award a year later (1954) after being cleared of the charges by the Amateur Athletic Union.
    He was the first African-American to win the Sullivan Award, although he noted in his autobiography, 'The honor should have gone first to Jesse Owens.'
    He coached in 20 countries and arranged for sports scholarships for over 5,000 African athletes to study in the US.
    Several of the athletes he mentored went on to become Olympic medalists, including Kipchoge Keino of Kenya, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, and John Akii-Bua of Uganda.

Credit: C. Fishel

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