Biography of Olympic Gold Medal Winner Ray C. Ewry Part 1

About the ten time gold medal Olympic winner Ray C. Ewry history and biography of the footnote athlete.


Who is Ray Ewry?

Ray C. Ewry, the Olympian who garnered more gold medals than any other competitor, has been defeated only by the years. His awesome jumping accomplishments have been swept from the public's memory, as the events he mastered have been eliminated from the Olympic track and field program. Few details of his gutsy life are still available.

In a flawless amateur career that spanned four Olympic Games, Ewry never lost any of his three pet events. He collected eight official and two unofficial gold medals. The standing jumps--the standing broad jump, the standing high jump, and the standing hop, step, and jump (also known as the triple jump)--were clearly his property. Only their gradual elimination from the Games prevented him from adding to his total of 10 gold medals.

Ray Ewry was born Oct. 14, 1873, and spent his early years in Lafayette, Ind. As a very small boy he was stricken with polio and lost his ability to walk. The family doctor was convinced that his frail body would never escape the grip of paralysis or the wheelchair to which he was confined. Ray's raw determination and relentless hard work proved the physician's judgment wrong.

The young Ewry devised his own set of grueling exercises. By practicing his progressive daily physical routine, Ray eventually developed great leg strength, body coordination, and smooth rhythmic movements. Later on he added a remarkable sense of timing and power to his other acquired attributes.

At Purdue University, Ewry was introduced to the world of track and field. His legs by now appeared to be fashioned of "two steel springs." Following a brief fling at running, Ray decided to specialize exclusively in the standing jumps. The 6 ft. 1 in., 162-lb. leaper reached world class proficiency in time to qualify for the 1900 Paris Olympics.

Ewry entered under the sponsorship of the New York Athletic Club. At 27--a late age to begin Olympic competition--he won three gold medals. He also established himself as the world's premier jumper.

All three pieces of Paris gold were won on the same afternoon--Monday, July 16. First Ray set an all-time Olympic record in the standing high jump with a vertical lift of 5 ft. 5 in. This was followed by a standing long jump of 10 ft. 6 3/8 in. He capped off the day with a standing triple jump of 34 ft. 8 1/2 in., the best outdoor mark recorded for the event. The frustration of the other jumpers was epitomized by Penn State star I. K. Baxter. He had three superb performances and took the silver medal, behind Ewry, in each contest.

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