ryun jim
Jim Ryun

  • At Wichita East High School, Ryun won three state championships in the mile run
  • Was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1966, making him the youngest ever
  • Member of two other Hall of Fames
Ryun, Jim
Inducted 1977

Born: April 29, 1947 – Wichita, KS

Graduated: Wichita (KS) East H.S., 1965; University of Kansas, 1970

Overview

A three-time U.S. Olympian and world record holder, James Ronald Ryun of Wichita established himself as one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all-time before he reached his twentieth birthday.

From High School to the World Stage

As a sophomore at Wichita East High School in 1963, Ryun ran his first race by placing second in the mile run with a time of 4:32.4. It would be the only mile race he would ever lose to another schoolboy. The following year, the 17-year-old junior became the first high school athlete to break the four-minute barrier when he ran 3:59.0. Ryun went on to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. As a senior at Wichita East, Ryun won his third state mile run title with a time of 3:58.3.  Six weeks later, Ryun defeated Olympic champion Peter Snell and set the American mile record in 3:55.3– a world prep mark that stood 36 years.

Collegiate Career

As a freshman at Kansas University, Ryun set his first world record in the 880-yard run with a time of 1:44.9. On July 17, 1966, he ran the mile in 3:51.3, smashing Michael Jazy’s world record by 2.3 seconds. He was named Sportsman of the Year (the youngest ever) by Sports illustrated in 1966 and won the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete. In 1967, Ryun lowered his mile record to 3:51.1, and added world records in the 1,500 meters–3:33.1, indoor half–mile at 1:48.3, and anchored KU’s sprint medley relay team to a world record of 3:15.2.

Olympic Highlights

He finished second in the 1,500 at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and failed to reach the finals in Munich in 1972 when he was tripped.

Honors

Ryun was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame.