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Mal (Marvelous Mal) Whitfield

Photo of Mal (Marvelous Mal) Whitfield

Inducted: 1974, athlete

Born: October 11, 1924 - Bay City, Texas

Events
400 m - 45.90
800 yd. - 1:48.60
800 m - 1:47.90
1,000 m - 2:20.80


Mal Whitfield, or "Marvelous Mal" as he was called, held his share of world records but he was an athlete who ran to win, rather than for time. Competitive at any distance from the 220 to the mile, Whitfield put together a record that included two Olympic 800m crowns, six world records and eight National AAU titles, six of them outdoors. A sergeant in the U.S. Air Force while attending Ohio State, Whitfield won national collegiate 880-800 titles in 1948 and 1949. He made his first Olympic team in 1948, taking the 800 in an Olympic record time of 1:49.2 and placing third in the 400. He garnered a second gold medal in the 4x400m relay. After serving as a tail gunner during the Korean War, Whitfield returned to the Olympic stage in Helsinki in1952. There, he repeated his 800m victory, again in 1:49.2, and earned a silver medal in the 4x400m relay. He set a world 880-yard record of 1:49.2 in 1950 and dropped it to 1:48.6 in 1952. Accustomed to doubling at the same meet, Whitfield set a world record in the 1000m at a meet in Eskilstuna, Sweden, then an hour later ran a personal best of 46.2 in the 440-yard run. The 1954 Sullivan Award winner as the top amateur athlete in the U.S., Whitfield later worked for the U.S. State Department in Africa. He was elected to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1988.

Records Held
World Record: 800 yd. - 1:48.60
World Record: 1,000 m - 2:20.80
Olympic Record: 800 m - 1:49.20

Championships
1948 Olympics: 400 m (3rd)
1948 Olympics: 800 m - 1:49.20 (1st)
1948 Olympics: 1,600 m relay (1st)
1952 Olympics: 800 m - 1:49.20 (1st)
1952 Olympics: 1,600 m relay (2nd)
1948 NCAA: 800 m (1st)
1949 NCAA: 800 m (1st)

Education
undergraduate: Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio)
undergraduate: Cal State Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California), 1956

Occupations
Diplomatic service

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