Charley Paddock
Charles Paddock after the 1920 Olympics
Personal information
Full nameCharles William Paddock
Born(1900-08-11)August 11, 1900[1]
Gainesville, Texas[1]
DiedJuly 21, 1943(1943-07-21) (aged 42)[1]
Sitka, Alaska[1]
Height5 ft 7+12 in (171 cm)
Weight165 lb (75 kg)
Event(s)100 m, 200 m
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 10.2 (1921)
200 m – 21.0 (1923)
Medal record
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1920 Antwerp 100 m
Gold medal – first place 1920 Antwerp 4x100 m relay
Silver medal – second place 1920 Antwerp 200 m
Silver medal – second place 1924 Paris 200 m
Gold medal – first place 1923 Paris 100 m
Gold medal – first place 1923 Paris 200 m

Charles William Paddock (August 11, 1900 – July 21, 1943) was an American athlete and two-time Olympic champion.[2][3]


Paddock was born in Gainesville, Texas, to Charles H. and Lulu (Robinson) Paddock. His family moved to Pasadena, California, when he was a child. After serving in World War I as a lieutenant of field artillery in the U.S. Marines, Paddock studied at the University of Southern California.[4] There he became a member of the track and field team, and excelled in the sprint events. He won the 100 and 200 m in the first major sporting event after the war, the 1919 Inter-Allied Games, in which soldiers of the Allied nations competed against each other. Paddock was the first person named "The fastest man alive".

In 1920, Paddock represented his country at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. In Belgium, he had his greatest successes, winning the 100 m final, while placing second in the 200 m event. With the American 4 × 100 m relay team, Paddock won a third Olympic medal. Paddock became famous for his unusual finishing style, leaping towards the finish line at the end of the race.

The next year, he ran the 110 yd, which is slightly more than 100 m, in 10.2 seconds. It was not until 1956 that the world record for the 100 m became lower than Paddock's time over 110 yard. Paddock broke or equaled several other world records over Imperial distances.

At the 1924 Olympics, Paddock again qualified for both the 100 and 200 m finals, but he was less successful than four years earlier; he finished 5th in the 100 m and won another silver medal in the 200 m. Paddock was not a part of the American relay team. In Chariots of Fire, the 1981 Oscar-winning film about those races, Paddock was portrayed by Dennis Christopher. In 1928, Paddock participated in his third Olympics, but did not reach the 200 m final.[2]

During his athletic activities, Paddock also held management positions in several newspapers; his father-in-law was newspaper publisher Charles H. Prisk. In 1926, Paddock appeared in The Campus Flirt, a black-and-white silent film (now lost) featuring another Texas native, Paramount starlet Bebe Daniels.[5] Paddock served on the personal staff of Major General William P. Upshur beginning at the end of World War I. An autobiography, entitled The Fastest Human, was published in 1932.[1]

In 1943, during World War II, Upshur and Paddock (by then a captain) died in a plane crash near Sitka, Alaska. Paddock is interred at Sitka National Cemetery in Sitka.[2][6][7]

In 1976 he was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.[8]

Competition record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United States
1920 Olympics Antwerp, Belgium 1st 100 m 10.6
1923 Universiade Paris, France 1st 100 m 10.4
1923 Universiade Paris, France 1st 200 m 21.0


  1. ^ a b c d e "Charley Paddock". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Charley Paddock Olympic Results". Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "Charley Paddock". Olympedia. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
  4. ^ "PADDOCK, CHARLES WILLIAM". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  5. ^ E. R. Bills. Texas Far & Wide: The Tornado with Eyes, Gettysburg's Last Casualty, The Celestial Skipping Stone and Other Tales. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2017.
  6. ^ "Olympians Who Were Killed or Missing in Action or Died as a Result of War". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  7. ^ "Marine Chief in pacific, Famous Sprinter Killer". The Ypsilanti Daily Press. Ypsilanti, MI. July 23, 1943. Retrieved November 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "Charlie Paddock". USA Track & Field, Inc. Retrieved April 1, 2009.