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Three-time Olympic gold medalist Mal Whitfield passes away at 91


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- USATF mourns the passing of three-time Olympic champion and five-time Olympic medalist Mal Whitfield, who died Wednesday night in Washington at 91.

Whitfield was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1974, following a storied athletic and military career where he became the first U.S. serviceman to win a gold medal while on active duty. Whitfield won three medals at the London 1948 Olympic Games, including gold in the 800 meters and 4x400m relay, and bronze in the 400m. Whitfield struck gold again in the 800m in 1952 and won silver in the 4x400m relay.

Whitfield trained for the 1952 Games while serving as a tail gunner during the Korean War, where he flew 27 bombing missions. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1952 and continued racing, winning 66 of 69 800-meter races from June of 1948 to the end of 1954. That year he became the first African-American recipient of the Sullivan Award, given to the top amateur athlete in the U.S.

Whitfield also toured the world as a Sports Goodwill Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and later became the head of the Physical Education and Sports Department at the University of Nigeria. He was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1988.

Compiled with information from the U.S. Olympic Committee

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