Henry Alton


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Henry Alton

Postby LopenUupunut » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:40 am

Happy birthday today (Tuesday) to two world record holders from the same country. Athlete A was born 138 years ago today, while athlete B was born 101 years ago.

You will not find athlete A in most world record lists, for the rather simple reason that his career predated the IAAF, but he held the world record in a well-contested event for almost 14 years. A four-time Olympic gold medalist tried to break athlete A's record and failed; the record was eventually broken by a European runner who won silver in one of those four races. Athlete A himself never competed at the Olympics.

You will find athlete B's name in all the usual world record lists, but what they likely won't tell you is how good he was at another event, which sadly for him was not part of the Olympic program. Athlete B did compete at the Olympics once, finishing a disappointing 4th; it was briefly thought he had placed 3rd, but in the end the bronze was given to a European runner with an extraordinarily long career.

The man whose record athlete A broke died young. The man who broke athlete A's record died young. The man who won Olympic gold ahead of athlete B died young. Athlete A died at age 47, while athlete B died at age 66.

Can you name our two birthday boys?
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Re: Henry Alton

Postby LopenUupunut » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:09 pm

OK, hints...

Henry is the middle name of athlete A, while Alton is one of the middle names of athlete B. Both athletes' surnames start with the letter K. Both athletes were US champions :)
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Re: Henry Alton

Postby DoubleRBar » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:00 pm

I think Athlete B might be Jack Keller. I know he ran at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics (110 hurdles). Athlete A probably would have been near his peak at the first Modern Olympic Games in 1896, but he didn't run in the Olympics and I am not familiar with him.
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Re: Henry Alton

Postby jmd » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:42 pm

I think athlete A is Charles Kilpatrick, world recordman of the 880 yards
with 1'53"4, in 1895, just yesterday !
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Re: Henry Alton

Postby LopenUupunut » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:58 am

Well done, DoubleRBar and jmd! Athlete A is Charles Kilpatrick and athlete B is Jack Keller.

Charles Kilpatrick was the leading half-miler of his time and won three consecutive US championships at the 880 yards (1894-96). He set his world record at a dual meet between the New York and London Athletic Clubs, not nearly as modest a meeting as that description might indicate - many of the world's greatest stars at the time took part, and the quality was easily higher than at the Olympics half a year later.

Jack Keller ran world records at both the 110m/120y hurdles and the 220y hurdles and won his event at the US Olympic Trials/Championships in 1932, but at the Olympics he only placed 4th, narrowly losing the bronze to Great Britain's Don Finlay. Longevity-wise, Finlay was the Allen Johnson of his times, still placing 4th at the 1950 British Empire Games; George Saling, the gold medalist, never got any such opportunity, as he died in a car accident less than a year after his Olympic victory.
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