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Noon(ish): Cleveland Loses Someone Special: Olympian Harrison Dillard

Impeachment hearings continue this week on Capitol Hill, with eight witnesses expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee over three days. [ungvar / Shutterstock]
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Track and field Olympian Harrison Dillard’s most startling victory was born out of an embarrassing loss.

Dillard, a lifelong Clevelander, was considered by many to be the world’s best hurdler in the 1940s. He won 82 consecutive finals in the high hurdles, low hurdles and sprints in a 12-month span, from June 1947 to June 1948.

But the following month, at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Illinois, he failed to qualify for the 110-meter hurdles. He lost his stride. He didn’t even finish the race.

“I was supposed to be a shoo-in,” he said, “ but I learned that day that nothing’s ever a sure thing.”

He still made the U.S. Olympic team, qualifying for the 100-meter dash with a third-place finish. He surprised the racing world by taking the gold medal, edging fellow American Barney Ewell in a photo finish at the XIV Olympiad in London later that summer.

Dillard got his gold in the 110m hurdles four years later at the Helsinki Olympics. He’s still the only man to have won gold in both the hurdles and the sprints.  

Harrison Dillard, who ended up with a lifetime total of four Olympic gold medals, died in Cleveland Friday at the age of 96. His other two gold medals came in the 400-meter relays in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics. With those victories , he matched the four gold medals won by his hometown hero, Jesse Owens, in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

USA Track and Field said in a statement, “Our sport has lost someone special.”  So has Cleveland. 

See you bright and early tomorrow morning on the radio,
Amy Eddings

Need to KnOH

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Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry are back this week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It sounds overwhelming, even for certified news junkies. What's your impeachment-watching plan: popcorn, Prozac or protective cocoon? Call us at  (216) 916-6476 or comment on  our Facebook page. We'll feature some of your thoughts and comments here in Noon(ish) and on Morning Edition.

If you are glued to the impeachment hearings, you can listen live on WCPN or at wcpn.org.

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