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1936 Olympic 800m Gold Medallist John Woodruff to Be Honored at SMU
from: SMU
February 2007


John Woodruff, the first black runner to win a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics, completing the 800-meter run in 1:52.9 minutes at the 1936 Olympics, will be honored during a ceremony at noon Wednesday, Feb. 21, the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.  All students, faculty and staff are invited.

In 1937, he broke the world record in the 800-meter at a race in Dallas only to have the Amateur Athletic Union rule the track was six feet short of regulation.  Recently, students at Ronald Reagan Middle School in Grand Prairie set up a mathematical equation showing that Mr. Woodruff would have broken the record even if the track had been extended to regulation length.

SMU will announce a scholarship named for Mr. Woodruff to be granted to a student from the Dallas area who has demonstrated outstanding academic, athletic and leadership achievement.  Also, a Texas Senate Resolution in his honor will be presented.  Students from Ronald Reagan Middle School will be in attendance.

Mr. Woodruff, now 91, and his wife, Rose, reside in Fountain Hills, Arizona.  Unfortunately, his health will not permit him to attend, but the program is being videotaped for him to watch at home.


The Dallas Morning News has a series of articles on Woodruff and his record run in Dallas being annulled.
*The first article where Woodruff says: "How could the chief engineer measure it within 1/1,000 of an inch [beforehand] and then find it 6 feet short? That was a big joke to me."
*For an in depth article on Mr. Woodruff first breaking the record and black athletes not being able to stay in the SMU dorms at the 1937 Pan Am Games, click here
*For a lengthy article from the Dallas Morning News on the middle school kids and Mr. Woodruff click here
*For more on the amazing Woodruff from the Arizona Republic and his thoughts on the run in Dallas click here


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