Harrison Dillard
Dillard at 1952 Summer Olympics
Personal information
Full nameWilliam Harrison Dillard[1]
Born(1923-07-08)July 8, 1923
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedNovember 15, 2019(2019-11-15) (aged 96)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)[1]
Weight152 lb (69 kg)[1]
Event(s)100 m, 200 m
110 m, 400 m hurdles
ClubBaldwin-Wallace College
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 10.50 (1948)
200 m – 20.8 (1948)
110 mH – 13.6 (1948)[1]
400 mH – 53.7 (1942)[2]
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1948 London 100 m
Gold medal – first place 1948 London 4×100 m relay
Gold medal – first place 1952 Helsinki 110 m hurdles
Gold medal – first place 1952 Helsinki 4×100 m relay
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt with Harrison Dillard holding the 1948 London Olympics torch, August 1, 2012.

William Harrison "Bones" Dillard (July 8, 1923 – November 15, 2019) was an American track and field athlete, who is the only male in the history of the Olympic Games to win gold in both the 100 meter (sprints) and the 110 meter hurdles, making him the “World’s Fastest Man” in 1948 and the “World’s Fastest Hurdler” in 1952.

Early life and career

Dillard was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 8, 1923,[3][1] and attended East Technical High School. He entered Baldwin-Wallace College in 1941 and joined Pi Lambda Phi International Fraternity, and two years later was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division known as the Buffalo Soldiers.[4]

According to a 1962 article written by Trinidadian Olympic sprinter Mike Agostini for Australia's The Age newspaper, Dillard was first inspired as a youngster by Charley Paddock, who Agostini says visited Dillard at his high school and encouraged him to follow his dream of becoming an Olympic champion like himself.[5]

Dillard returned to college in 1946, and resumed athletics, inspired by Jesse Owens, who, like him, was from Cleveland and had attended East Technical High School. He won the NCAA and AAU 120-yard and 220-yard hurdles in both 1946 and 1947, tying world records in both events with a 22.3 in the 220 in 1946 and a 13.6 in the 120. Between June 1947 and June 1948, he remained unbeaten in 82 consecutive finals, a record until broken by Ed Moses.

Olympic Games

Dillard in the hurdles, Olympic Games, London, 1948
Official Video Highlights, Dillard winning 1948 100 meters Dillard winning 1952 110 meters hurdles

At the trials for the 1948 Summer Olympics, Dillard failed to qualify for the 110 m hurdles event, but qualified for the 100 m after finishing third.

At the Games, Dillard reached the final, which seemed to end in a dead heat between Dillard and another American, Barney Ewell. The finish photo showed Dillard had won, equalling the World record as well. This was the first use of a photo finish at an Olympic Games.[6] As a member of the 4 × 100 m relay team, he won another gold medal at the London Games.[1]

Four years later, still a strong hurdler, Dillard did qualify for the 110 m hurdles event, and won the event in Helsinki.[3] Another 4 × 100 m relay victory yielded Dillard's fourth Olympic title. Dillard attempted to qualify for a third Olympics in 1956, but failed (finishing seventh in the trials final[7]). Earlier he took part in and won the gold medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1953 Maccabiah Games.[8][9]

Later years

Dillard worked for the Cleveland Indians baseball franchise in scouting and public relations capacities, and hosted a radio talk show on Cleveland's WERE. He also worked for the Cleveland City School District for many years as its business manager.[1] Dillard died on November 15, 2019, at the age of 96, of stomach cancer.[10] At the time of his death he was the United States' oldest living Olympic gold medallist.[11]

Competition record

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United States
1948 Olympics London, England 1st 100 m 10.3 (=OR)
1948 Olympics London, England 1st 4 × 100 m relay 40.6
1952 Olympics Helsinki, Finland 1st 110 m hurdles 13.9 (OR)
1952 Olympics Helsinki, Finland 1st 4 × 100 m relay 40.1

Awards and honors

World Rankings

Dillard was ranked among the best in the world in both the 100 m/100 y sprint and 110 m/120 y sprint hurdle events from 1947 to 1953, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[13] [14][note 1]

Year World rank 100 m World rank 110 m hurdles
1947 9th 1st
1948 1st 2nd
1949 7th 2nd
1950 - -
1951 - -
1952 - 1st
1953 - 6th

World Records

Dillard in his career posted the following world record and world best times.[note 2][note 3][15]

Dillard achieved the following world records during his track career:[16]

He also ran the following world best times that were never ratified by the sport's governing body, the IAAF:


  1. ^ Rankings started in 1947.
  2. ^ 120 yards is 109.73m, a difference of 27 cm with 110 m. This means for record purposes there is no conversion factor applied for hand-timing when converting between times recorded for the two distances.
  3. ^ 200 m/220 y hurdle events over a turn were accepted as world records to 1 January 1959; 200 m/220 y hurdle events were removed as world record events in 1969.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Harrison Dillard". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  2. ^ Harrison Dillard. trackfield.brinkster.net
  3. ^ a b "Harrison Dillard". olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  4. ^ Olympians Harrison Dillard and Herb Douglas recall life, times and the 1948 London Summer games
  5. ^ "The Age - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  6. ^ Jackson, Peter (July 24, 2012) London's three Olympic Games compared
  7. ^ Richard Hymans. "US Olympic Trials History - 1956" (PDF). Track and Field News.
  8. ^ "Mal Whitfield, Olympian and Tuskegee Airman | Dr. Gabe Mirkin on Health". August 7, 2016.
  9. ^ YNET News: Maccabiah's Best Athletes. ynetnews.com (July 16, 2005)
  10. ^ Dolgan, Bob (November 15, 2019). "Track legend Harrison Dillard, four-time Olympic champion, dies at 96". Cleveland.com. Brooklyn, Ohio: Advance Publications. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  11. ^ "Harrison Dillard: Former Olympic 100m and 110m hurdles champion dies aged 96". BBC. November 16, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Litsky, Frank (November 17, 2019). "Harrison Dillard, World's Best Hurdler in the 1940s, Dies at 96". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  14. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 110 Hurdles" (PDF). Track and Field News. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  15. ^ Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p vii.
  16. ^ Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p 468.

Further reading