Bobby Morrow
Morrow with wife Jo Ann in 1956
Personal information
Born(1935-10-15)October 15, 1935
Harlingen, Texas, U.S.[1]
DiedMay 30, 2020(2020-05-30) (aged 84)
San Benito, Texas, U.S
Resting placeRestlawn Memorial Park
La Feria, Texas
Height186 cm (6 ft 1 in)[2]
Weight75 kg (165 lb)
Event100–400 m
ClubACU Wildcats, Abilene[2]
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 10.2 (1956)
200 m – 20.75 (1956)
400 m – 47.7 (1959)[2][3]
Medal record
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne 100 meters
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne 200 meters
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne 4 × 100 m relay

Bobby Joe Morrow (October 15, 1935 – May 30, 2020) was an American sprinter who won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics. He has been called "the dominant sprinter of the 1950s" and "the most relaxed sprinter of all time, even more so than his hero Jesse Owens".[4]

Early life

Morrow was born in Harlingen, Texas,[2] on October 15, 1935,[5] and raised on a cotton and carrot farm on the outskirts of San Benito, Texas.[6][7] Before becoming a sprinter, Morrow played football for San Benito High School.[6] Morrow also was a sprinter at Abilene Christian University,[6] and became a member of the men's club Frater Sodalis in 1955.[8]


Morrow won the 1955 AAU 100-yard title. His most successful season was in 1956, when he was chosen by Sports Illustrated as "Sportsman of the Year".[6] Morrow won the sprint double in the national college championships and defended his AAU title. Morrow then went to the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, where he won three gold medals and was the leader of the American sprint team. First, he was victorious in the 100-meter dash. He then led an American sweep of the medals in the 200-meter dash, while equaling the world record at that distance with a time of 20.6 seconds (unofficially auto-timed at 20.75). He won his third gold by anchoring the 4 × 100-meter relay team to a world record time.[2][3][9] He was the first sprinter since Jesse Owens in 1936 to win gold medals in those three events.[10]

Morrow achieved great fame after winning his three gold medals, and was featured on the covers of Life and SPORT, as well as Sports Illustrated. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends, and addressed a joint session of the Texas legislature.[11]

Morrow's success on a national level continued after the Olympics, but he retired in 1958 to become a farmer and a woodworker. He made a short comeback before the 1960 Olympic Games, but failed to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.[8]


In October 2006, San Benito High School named its new 12,000 seat sporting facility in San Benito, used for football and soccer, Bobby Morrow Stadium.[12] Morrow was on hand to help dedicate the new facility. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1989[1] and into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.[13]

Personal life

Morrow in a college chemistry lab. in 1956

Morrow was married to Jo Ann Strickland, whom he met in high school,[7] in what was described as a "fairy-tale marriage".[8] They moved to Odessa, and later to Houston, where he restarted his career in banking that he had put on hold to train for the 1960 Olympics. They divorced around 1968.[8] He subsequently moved to Ohio, where he met and married Judy.[8]

Morrow died of natural causes on May 30, 2020, at his home in Harlingen, Texas, at the age of 84.[6][14]


  1. ^ a b Bobby Morrow Archived June 27, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. USATF Hall of Fame
  2. ^ a b c d e Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Bobby Morrow". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on April 17, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Bobby Morrow.
  4. ^ Sears, Edward Seldon (2001). Running Through the Ages. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 236–238. ISBN 9780786409716.
  5. ^ Puente, Nathaniel (May 30, 2020). "Bobby J. Morrow, Olympic medal winner, San Benito native, passes away at 84". ValleyCentral News. KVEO-TV. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Bobby Joe Morrow, 3-time winner in 1956 Olympics, dies at 84". Associated Press News. May 30, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Bioperse: Bobby Morrow". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 5 (1 ed.). July 2, 1956. p. 59. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d e Martin, William (August 1984). "The Fastest Nice Christian Boy in the World". Texas Monthly. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  9. ^ Morrow—and a day of medal memories, The Age, (Wednesday, 12 February 1975), p.1.
  10. ^ "Bobby Joe Morrow". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. October 11, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  11. ^ Martin, William (August 1984). "The Fastest Nice Christian Boy in the World: Then Bobby Morrow Lost His Speed and He Began to Have Certain Doubts". Texas Monthly. Austin, Texas. pp. 114–201.
  12. ^ Bobby Morrow Stadium – San Benito, Texas. (April 14, 2013). Retrieved on 2017-08-21.
  13. ^ Inductees – Name, Category, Year Archived January 16, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. TX TF Hall of Fame.
  14. ^ Former ACU track star, Olympic gold medal winner Bobby Joe Morrow dies