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Harold Connolly

Photo of Harold Connolly

Inducted: 1984, athlete

Born: August 1, 1931 - Somerville, Massachusetts

Events
Hammer Throw - 71.26 m


In 1956, Connolly won the gold medal in the hammer throw at the Melbourne Olympics. Connolly represented the U.S. in three subsequent Olympics, finishing 8th in 1960 and 6th in 1964 before failing to qualify for the final in 1968. One of the greatest hammer throwers in track and field history, Harold Connolly was the 1956 Olympic champion who broke the world record seven times, helping to place the U.S. in the forefront of an event that historically had not been one of the nation's best. A graduate of Boston College, Connolly won 12 national titles, including nine in the hammer outdoors and three indoors with the 35-pound weight throw. While at Boston College, Connolly took up the event to strengthen his left arm, which was slightly withered at birth and weakened from injuries in football and wrestling. By 1955, he became the first American to surpass 200 feet, throwing 201' 5". That was just the beginning of his record-setting exploits. He gained his first world record with a throw of 224' 10", shortly before the 1956 Olympics. Wearing ballet shoes to improve his footing in the concrete ring, he beat long-time world record holder Mikhail Krivonosov to win the gold medal. Besides 1956, he also was a member of the 1960, 1964 and 1968 Olympic teams, but it was in 1956 that Connolly grabbed world attention when he met Olga Fikatova, the Olympic women's discus champion from Czechoslovakia. A romance developed and they were married in October 1957. They divorced in 1975 but a son by that marriage, Jim, later became an outstanding decathlon competitor at UCLA. Connolly subsequently married the former Pat Winslow, a three-time Olympian in the 800 meters and pentathlon. Their youngest son, Adam, carried on his father's tradition, ranking third among U.S. hammer throwers in 1999. After retiring from competition, Hal Connolly became a schoolteacher, manager of Special Olympics International, and publisher of a web site to promote his event, hammerthrow.org.

Records Held
World Record: Hammer Throw - 68.54 m
World Record: Hammer Throw - 71.26 m (June 20, 1975 - )

Championships
1956 Olympics: Hammer Throw (1st)
1960 Olympics: Hammer Throw (8th)
1964 Olympics: Hammer Throw (6th)
1968 Olympics: Hammer Throw

Education
undergraduate: Boston College (Boston, Massachusetts), 1952

Occupations
Schoolteacher
Coach
Administrator for Special Olympics
Author
Publisher of hammerthrow.com

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