It was announced this morning that Harvard sprinter and the United States’ first double gold Olympic medalist Tom Burke (H ’01) will be inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame. Burke will be inducted with Stacy Dragila (Olympic pole vaulter; 2000 Olympic gold medalist), Lance Deal (4-time Olympic hammer thrower; 1996 Olympic silver medalist), Theodore “Ted” Corbitt (1952 Olympic marathoner; known as “the father of long distance running”), and Pat “Paddy” Ryan (Olympic hammer thrower and former world record holder; 1920 Olympic gold medalist) as the newest members of the Hall on December 4th during the Jesse Owens Awards and Hall of Fame Banquet.
Burke earned his two gold medals at the 1896 Olympic Games, where he won both the 100 yard (12.0 seconds) and 440 yard (54.2 seconds) distances. At the time, he was a second-year law student at Boston University. Burke was the only athlete in the 100 meters to utilize the new”crouch start”, which confused the race jury and fascinated the Greek crowds (that is Burke crouching in the image above, second from the left). Prior to the Olympics, Burke was better known as a 400-meter runner as he won the AAU title in the 440-yard event in 1895, and then defended the title in 1896 and 1897. Burke was the first official starter for the inaugural Boston Marathon in April 1897. Burke later attended Harvard for graduate studies and finished in 1901. He later became a lawyer and a journalist for several Boston newspapers. Burke passed away in 1929 at the age of 53. Burke would only ever compete in a single Olympic Games.
photo from Olympic.org