Born: August 4, 1909 – Atlanta, KS
Died: March 10, 1988 – Conway, AR
Graduated: Elkhart (KS) H.S., 1930; University of Kansas, 1934; PHD – New York University
Years before becoming the world's greatest miler and two-time U.S. Olympian, Glenn Cunningham nearly died in a schoolhouse fire that claimed his brother's life and left his legs so badly burned, his doctor wanted to amputate them. It was feared the seven year-old boy would never walk again. But Cunningham endured the incredible pain and horrible scars and month after month exercised until he could stand on his own. After nearly a year of exercise, he learned to walk again, and in his words, "by the grace of God, I learned to run again." He went on to become one of the greatest track stars of all time.
High School Highlights
Less than ten years after his accident, he joined the Elkhart (KS) High School track team. As a senior, he won mile run titles at the KU Relays, the state outdoor meet, and the National Interscholastic meet in Chicago where he set a world prep record with a time of 4:24.7.
Running for Kansas University, he won six Big-6 mile run titles, two NCAA titles and 10 AAU national titles.
Olympic & Professional Highlights
"The Kansas Flyer" set world records in the mile run (4:06.8) in 1934 and 800 meters (1:49.7) in 1936. He received the coveted Sullivan Award in 1933 as the country's top amateur athlete, finished fourth in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics at 1,500 meters and won the silver medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 1938, when Cunningham ran his fastest mile in 4:04.4, he owned 12 of the 31 fastest mile times on record. In 1978, Cunningham was named the outstanding track performer in the 100-year history of Madison Square Garden. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1979.