Walter George Marty (August 15, 1910 – April 25, 1995) was an American high jumper. He set both indoor and outdoor world records in his speciality and was national co-champion both indoors and outdoors in his peak year of 1934.

High jump career

Early career

As a student at Fresno High School, Marty jumped 6 ft 4+14 in (1.93 m) at the 1929 West Coast Relays, setting a United States high school record;[1][2] only five athletes of any age jumped higher that year.[3] Marty duplicated the mark in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum while winning the 1929 CIF California State Meet.[4] In 1930 Marty was national junior champion[5] and represented the United States in a dual meet against the British Empire; he cleared a personal best 6 ft 5+14 in (1.96 m) in that meet and won ahead of national senior champion Anton Burg.[6][7]

In June 1931 Marty cleared a personal best 6 ft 6+38 in (1.99 m) at the inaugural Kern County Relays in Taft;[8] at the national (AAU) senior championships three weeks later he jumped 6 ft 4+38 in (1.94 m) and placed second to Burg, who defended his title.[9] Marty was selected to tour South Africa that fall as one of nine American track and field athletes.[10][11] In Queenstown he cleared 6 ft 6+34 in (2.00 m) for a new South African all-comers record;[12] it was the second-best jump in the world that summer, behind George Spitz at 6 ft 7+516 in (2.01 m).[13]

Marty remained in good form in 1932; he cleared 6 ft 6+12 in (1.99 m) at the Far Western Conference meet in Sacramento, leading Fresno State College to a conference title.[14] Marty also won at the Olympic Trials semi-finals in Long Beach, jumping 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m).[15] He was considered one of the favorites to make the 1932 Olympic team but narrowly missed out; at the final Olympic Trials in Palo Alto he cleared 6 ft 5+58 (1.97 m) and placed shared fourth as the top three qualified.[16][17]

Peak and decline

In 1933 and 1934 Marty was the world's leading high jumper, setting several new world records.[11] He set his first world record at the West Coast Relays in Fresno on May 13, 1933, clearing 6 ft 8+58 in (2.04 m) and breaking Harold Osborn's outdoor world record from 1924.[18][19] Marty's main rivals at his peak were Spitz and Cornelius Johnson; Spitz held the indoor world record of 6 ft 8+12 in (2.04 m), while Johnson was a consistent competitor with excellent head-to-head records against both Spitz and Marty.[20][21][22] Johnson won the 1933 AAU title with a jump of 6 ft 7 in (2.00 m), ahead of Marty, who shared second place with Spitz.[9]

Marty competed indoors for the first time in the winter of 1934; until then, he'd been purely an outdoor jumper.[23] At the New York Athletic Club's indoor games on February 17 he jumped 6 ft 8+34 in (2.05 m) to set a new indoor world record and defeat previous record holder Spitz, who was second.[24] In the AAU indoor meet later that winter Marty cleared 6 ft 7+12 in (2.01 m) and shared the championship with Spitz.[25] Marty's 1934 outdoor shape was also record-breaking; on April 7 he jumped 6 ft 9+12 in (2.07 m) in a dual meet between Fresno State and Sacramento Junior College, but the jump couldn't be recognized as a new record as no AAU officials were present to ratify it.[19][26] Three weeks later he cleared 6 ft 9+18 in (2.06 m) in a dual meet against Stanford, his second official outdoor world mark.[19]

Marty was then briefly sidelined by a bruised knee but returned in time for the NCAA championships in Los Angeles, where he tied for first with Spitz at 6 ft 6+34 in (2.00 m).[22][27][28] Marty also tied for first, with Johnson, at the 1934 AAU outdoor meet; the two cleared 6 ft 8+58 in (2.04 m) for a new meeting record.[9]

A hernia kept Marty out of action for most of 1935, and he was expected to retire;[29][30] however, after a successful operation he attempted a comeback in 1936.[31][32] He almost managed to regain his 1934 form, clearing 6 ft 8+34 in (2.05 m) in May 1936 and even exceeding his world record in training.[7][30] He was favored to qualify for the United States' 1936 Olympic team,[21] but at the Olympic Trials he only cleared 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), again placing shared fourth and missing out.[33][34] The top two - Johnson and Dave Albritton - both sailed over 6 ft 9+34 in (2.07 m), breaking Marty's world record.[33][34] The American team of Johnson, Albritton and Delos Thurber went on to sweep the Olympic medals.[33]


Marty used the high jump technique known as the Western roll, pioneered in the early 1910s by George Horine and Edward Beeson.[35] At the time, there were two main jumping styles; Marty (and other west coast jumpers, like Johnson) used the roll, whereas east coast jumpers (such as Spitz) mostly used the Eastern cut-off or other developments of the old scissors jump.[11][35]


  1. ^ "Walter Marty" (PDF). Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "Prep Athlete Soars to New High Jump Record". The Milwaukee Sentinel. March 23, 1930. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  3. ^ "Men, High Jump: All Years". Track and Field Statistics. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  4. ^ "California State Meet Results - 1915 to present".
  5. ^ "Olympic Club of San Francisco Enters Stout Team in A.A.U. Here". Lincoln Evening Journal. June 23, 1931. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "U.S. Scores Win Over British At Soldier Field". Decatur Herald. August 28, 1930. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Walter Marty". Track and Field Statistics. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  8. ^ "Local Athletes Bid To Relays at Taft". Berkeley Daily Gazette. May 2, 1932. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2014". Track & Field News. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "Yankee Track Stars to Perform in Africa". Reading Eagle. July 8, 1931. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c Jukola, Martti (1935). Huippu-urheilun historia (in Finnish). Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö.
  12. ^ "Americans Win African Track, Field Carnival". Daily Illini. August 15, 1931. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  13. ^ "Jumping Feats of George Spitz Given Recognition". The Deseret News. January 6, 1932. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  14. ^ "Fresno State Captures Far Western Meet". Nevada State Journal. May 8, 1932. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  15. ^ "Cougars' Stars in Crucial Tests". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 2, 1932. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  16. ^ "Favorites in Olympic Track and Field Tests". Reading Eagle. July 14, 1932. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  17. ^ Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  18. ^ Newland, Russell J. (Associated Press) (May 15, 1933). "Young Marty King in Jump". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Baldini, Giovanni; Castellini, Ottavio; Martini, Marco. "Il "ventrale" bellezza di un gesto che fu arte prima di essere sport" (in Italian and English). International Association of Athletics Federations. p. 38. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  20. ^ Kuechle, Oliver E. (February 8, 1935). "Marty or Spitz Can't Beat Johnson". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  21. ^ a b LeCron, Leslie M. (August 1936). "Who's Who In The Olympics". Boys' Life. p. 29. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Kuechle, Oliver E. (June 26, 1934). "The Jumps". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  23. ^ "California High Jumper East to Duel George Spitz". Reading Eagle. January 30, 1934. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  24. ^ "Two Records Are Broken at Garden Races". The Milwaukee Journal. February 18, 1934. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  25. ^ "USA Indoor Track & Field Champions". USA Track & Field. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  26. ^ "Walter Marty Leaps to New Unofficial High Jump Mark". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 8, 1934. Retrieved June 18, 2015.
  27. ^ "Injury May Keep Marty From Meet". Berkeley Daily Gazette. June 5, 1934. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  28. ^ Hill, E. Garry. "A History of the NCAA Championships" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  29. ^ Newland, Russ J. (August 22, 1935). "Scouting Western Sports". Reno Evening Gazette. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Track, Field Stars Gather in California". Prescott Evening Courier. May 16, 1936. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  31. ^ Gould, Alan (March 23, 1936). "High Hopes for Olympic Crown". Prescott Evening Courier. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  32. ^ Johns, Walter (April 8, 1936). "Olympic Roll Call". Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  33. ^ a b c Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials - Track & Field" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  34. ^ a b "Uncle Sam's Crew Bound for Berlin". Lawrence Journal-World. July 13, 1936. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
  35. ^ a b Wells, W. A. (March 1, 1934). "Western Track Fans Gloat At 'Roll' Triumph". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
Records Preceded by Harold Osborn World record holder in men's high jump 13 May 1933 – 12 July 1936 Succeeded by Cornelius Johnson Dave Albritton Preceded by George Spitz World indoor record holder in men's high jump 17 February 1934 – 22 February 1936 Succeeded by Ed Burke Cornelius Johnson