Bob Mathias - Olympic Decathlon Winner
American decathlete, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and United States Congressman Robert Bruce "Bob" Mathias was born on November 17, 1930 in Tulare, California. He wasthe second of four children to ... show more
American decathlete, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and United States Congressman Robert Bruce "Bob" Mathias was born on November 17, 1930 in Tulare, California. He wasthe second of four children to parents, Dr. Charles and Lillian Mathias.
He attended Tulare Union High School. It was actually during high school that he took up the decathlon. The summer of after his high school graduation, he qualified for the United States Olympic team to participate in the 1948 Summer Olympics held in London.
While at the Olympics, he nearly fouled out of the shot put and failed the high jump. He was able to overcome his naivete and triumphed with a gold medal. He was the youngest gold medalist to win a track and field event. He won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete.
He attended Stanford University in 1949, where he played college football for two years. He set his first decathlon world record in 1950 and led Stanford to the Rose Bowl in 1952.
In 1952, Mathias returned to the Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He won the decathlon by a startling 912 points. He was the first person to ever compete in an Olympics and a Rose Bowl in the same year.
In 1953, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins, though he never played in National Football League.
He dabbled in acting in the 1950s and 60s.
In 1954, he married his first wife, Melba. They later had three daughters, Romel, Megan, and Marissa. Mathias and his wife starred in the movie "The Bob Mathias Story."
He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as Congressman in the 18th district of California for 8 years: 1967-1975.
Mathias became the first director of the United States Olympic Training Center from 1977-1983.
In 1977, Bob and Gwendoyln Alexander married. Gwen has one daughter Alyse, from a prior marriage to Bill Alexander, former U.S. Congressman. Bob also has a son, Reiner, born outside of wedlock.
In 1983, Mathias was appointed executive director of the National Fitness Foundation.
Bob Mathias died on September 2, 2006 in Fresno, California from cancer at the age of 75.