G. McConway
August 24, 2023

Legendary Olympian Dies at 90

The defining moment of Tom Courtney’s athletic career likely happened before most of you reading this were even born.

Courtney was a member of the 1956 Summer Olympic track and field team in Melbourne.

Tom Courtney was an amazing track star from Fordham University when he made the Olympic team.

He specialized in the 800-meter race, and was in an epic battle when fate almost robbed him of his moment.

Sadly, Courtney passed away on Tuesday, with the only solace being the reliving of his amazing Olympic win, reported the Fordham News.

His son had stated the cause of death was amyloidosis.

The Battle

Courtney, while a top-ranked runner at the time, was not the favorite heading into the race.

That honor belongs to Arnie Sowell, a University of Pittsburgh senior. Sowell had gotten the best of Courtney on several occasions, but Courtney was clearly his rival of the time.

Courtney was a strong runner, but that day, he thought he had lost the race before the gun ever went off.

He wrote, “As I stepped onto the track, I felt my legs go rubbery. I saw over a hundred thousand people in the stands, and before I knew it I had collapsed onto the infield grass.

“‘Can it be,’ I remember thinking, as I lay there gazing up at the sky, ‘that I am so nervous I’m not going to be able to run,” reported the New York Times.

Well, he got it figured out and the race ended up unfolding perfectly for him. Sowell had set the pace, but Courtney had more in reserve when it mattered, going past Sowell on the final turn.

All of a sudden, British runner Derek Johnson came out of nowhere to push through and take the lead with only 40 meters to go.

Courtney somehow found the strength to push one more gear, barely getting by Johnson at the line with a massive lunge to take the gold…

Courtney recalled, “It was a new kind of agony for me.

“My head was exploding, my stomach ripping. Even the tips of my fingers ached. The only thought in my mind was, ‘If I live, I’ll never run again.’

“I felt it all slipping away, but then I looked at the tape and realized that this was the only chance I would ever have.”

With your death, sir, you have now made generations aware of your amazing feat… rest in peace.

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