Jim Ryun, 3:33.1


One July in 1967, a young man from Kansas decided to try his luck in the 1500-meter run at the annual US vs. British Commonwealth meet in California. He set a world record that day in the Los Angeles Coliseum with an astonishing time of 3:33.1 against the Kenyan runner Kip Keino that stood for seven years.  This was not new.  As a younger man, he had shown promise in high school and was the first athlete his age to run a mile in under four minutes.  By graduation, he had bested his own record several times and by nineteen had set a string of world records in the mile and half-mile.  Ironically, this Topeka native had been cut from his school’s basketball, baseball, and track and field teams as a teenager, and running cross-country was a last resort.  Determined by grit or his Presbyterian faith, Jim Ryun became the youngest male track athlete ever to qualify for the Olympics.  Eventually he medaled in three sets of Games over twelve years, received Athlete of the Year Awards, was elected to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame; and upon retirement from running, he entered business, then national politics as a Congressman on the Republican ticket.


Leave a Reply