Lee Calhoun’s first Olympic gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles was somewhat of a surprise.
At the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, Calhoun ran nearly a full second faster than his time leading up to The Olympics. At the finish line, Calhoun lunged his shoulders forward – a move he had learned from teammate and race favorite Jack Davis – and nipped Davis in a photo finish. Both runners were listed with a time of 13.5 seconds.
Four years later, Calhoun was back on the track at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games and again stood atop the podium recognizing the 110-meter hurdles gold medalist. This time, though, the route was much different.
In 1958, Calhoun had his amateur status suspended after appearing on a television game show, Bride and Groom. But Calhoun’s suspension was rescinded and this time, he entered The Olympics as a favorite, having set a world record with a time of 13.2 seconds in a tuneup race.
Once again, Calhoun found himself in a tight race with a teammate, but he managed to edge Willie May at the finish line, with both runners finishing in 13.8 seconds.
Calhoun was the first male athlete ever to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 110 hurdles.
Calhoun went on to a collegiate coaching career, with positions at Grambling State University, Yale University and Western Illinois University, and was an assistant coach on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team.
Calhoun passed away in 1989. He was 56.