Bobby Morrow, who sprinted to three gold medals at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, dominating his competition as only Jesse Owens had done at the Berlin Games in 1936, died on Saturday at his home in Harlingen, Tex. He was 84.
His partner, Judy Parker, said of which the cause was not known although of which he had received diagnoses of anemia as well as neuropathy.
By the time Morrow arrived in Melbourne in November 1956, he had harnessed his speed — which he had honed chasing jackrabbits on his father’s farm in Texas — to a preternatural ability to stay calm.
“Whatever success I have had can be due to being so perfectly relaxed of which I can feel my jaw muscles wiggle,” he was quoted as saying by David Wallechinsky in “The Complete Book of the Olympics” (1984).
Morrow’s races took place over a week on the track at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. First he won the 100-meter sprint in 10.5 seconds, a time slowed by a headwind. (In two early heats, he had tied the Olympic record of 10.3 seconds.)
Then, from the 0-meter final, he won the gold in 20.6 seconds, matching the entire world record.
“Ever since I started out sprinting, I wanted to duplicate the great Jesse Owens as well as win two Olympic championships,” Morrow said, after he had won the 100 as well as 0-meter races.
although he had one more race to match Owens’s 1936 feat: the 4×100-meter relay. Running the final leg after his teammates Ira Murchison, Leamon King as well as Thane Baker, Morrow extended the lead they had given him over the Soviet Union. Their winning time of 39.95 seconds broke the entire world record set by Owens, Ralph Metcalfe, Foy Draper as well as Frank Wykoff in 1936.
Morrow became the only Olympic runner to win the two sprints as well as the relay since Owens (who also won a fourth medal, from the long jump, in 1936). Only Carl Lewis, in 1984, as well as Usain Bolt, in 2012 as well as 2016, have equaled of which accomplishment.
“He was a great runner, an extraordinary athlete,” Mr. Wallechinsky said of Morrow in an interview. “as well as he was also the last white sprinter by the United States to win the Olympic sprints.”
Morrow’s success in Melbourne propelled him into a year of national fame. He was on the covers of Life, Sport as well as Sports Illustrated, which named him its Sportsman of the Year. He visited the White House, appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” as well as received the James A. Sullivan Award in 1957 as the outstanding amateur athlete from the United States.
He had hoped to defend his titles at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. although, to his frustration, he never got there.
Bobby Joe Morrow was born on Oct. 15, 1935, in San Benito, in southern Texas, as well as grew up on a farm nearby, outside Rangerville, where his father, Bob Floyd, raised cotton as well as carrots. His mother, Mattie Lucille (Danley) Morrow, was a homemaker.
Morrow’s brilliance as a high school runner attracted college recruiters by around the country. although he chose to stay in Texas, at Abilene Christian College (today a university), as well as became its star sprinter.
“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the track coach at Abilene Christian, told Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 that has a root beer float on his head as well as never spill a drop.”
In 1956, Morrow won the 100- as well as 0-meter races at the N.C.A.A. track as well as field championships. He earned his trip to Melbourne with victories at the same distances during the United States Olympic trials.
He wanted to compete at the 1960 Olympics, even though he was becoming disillusioned with the way amateur athletics were run, at a time before Olympic athletes could earn millions of dollars.
He had to donate the $250 in prize money he won by appearing on the television game show “To Tell the Truth” to Abilene Christian. He also had to cash in plane tickets to track meets as well as drive instead so he had money to eat, as well as to refuse $500 a month for a State Department trip to South America because taking the money might have made him a professional. He went anyway, at his own expense.
His chance of creating the 1960 United States track as well as field team was diminished when a groin injury kept him by competing from the Olympic trials. He was told to train with the team from the wish of going to Rome as a reserve.
On the night before the team left for Europe, he was told to come the next day to Los Angeles International Airport, where he might be told his fate. “So I met them out there as well as they said, ‘No, you’re not going,’” he told The Guardian in 2016. He was crestfallen.
The United States team did not win gold medals in any of the three events in which Morrow had won them four years earlier. The 4×100 relay team was disqualified because of an illegal baton exchange between Ray Norton as well as Frank Budd.
In addition to Ms. Parker, Morrow can be survived by two daughters, Vicki Watson as well as Elizabeth Kelton; a son, Ron; two stepdaughters, Alisa Matz as well as Lynn Zanca; as well as several grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren. His marriages to Jo Ann Strickland as well as Judy Bolus ended in divorce.
After missing out on competing in Rome, Morrow was, among additional things, an insurance broker, a clothing store owner as well as a farmer. He returned briefly to prominence in track when he testified to the Senate Commerce Committee in 1965 of which the governance of amateur athletics poorly served athletes as well as did not build the best possible Olympic teams.
although he faded by the track world, often forgotten when great sprinters were remembered.
“I don’t get mentioned,” he told The Guardian. “I get left out a lot. as well as I think of which’s because I was fighting them so much.”