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RIP Ted Wheeler


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  • RIP Ted Wheeler

    Ted Wheeler died 17 November 2022 in Iowa City, Iowa. He ran the 1,500 metres at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and was the first Black American Olympic 1,500 runner.

    Here is our bio from Olympedia:

    In 1956 Ted Wheeler placed fifth in the 1,500 at the NCAAs and improved to second at the Olympic Trials. At the AAU Meet, Wheeler was eighth in the 800 in 1954 and sixth in 1955, and finished seventh in the 1,500 in 1952. Wheeler competed at both the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Trials in the 1,500, finishing eighth in 1952 and second in 1956. He represented the University of Iowa and the Chicago TC.

    Wheeler became a coach at his alma mater, serving as head of Iowa cross-country from 1973-87 and head track coach from 1978-97. He was inducted into the Black American Hall of Fame, The University of Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.

    Personal Bests: 440y – 48.6 (1953); 880y – 1:50.3 (1955); 1500 – 3:48.0 (1956); Mile – 4:04.7 (1956); 2 miles – 9:16.0 (1951).

  • #2
    I met Ted at the TAC ( USATF ) convention in about 1983. He seemed surprised that I knew who he was !


    • #3
      I never met Ted Wheeler nor did I ever see him run in person, however I certainly did read about him. I loved reading about the 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials (Los Angeles Coliseum) and the 1,500 was an exciting race. Wheeler just beat Don Bowden (from Cal) for second place and you know that Don Bowden would become the first American to run the mile under four minutes. He did that the following year (1957). None of the U.S. 1,500 runners in Melbourne made the Olympic 1,500 final, but that race in the L.A. Coliseum in June of 1956 was a good one. RIP Ted Wheeler.


      • #4
        So sad to read the RIP on Ted Wheeler. He was a very quiet and gentle man, athlete, and coach. Saw him run at University of Chicago Stagg Field and in their Indoor Field House during my Sophomore and Junior HS years. He was a "giant" miler to me. I was only 5'7" and he looked to be 6' 4". He was part of the great UCTC group of Ted Haydon's teams. He always shook hands before and after each race, but it was hard to run behind him with his long and high strides. To me he was a former Olympian as was Phil Coleman, Ira Murchinson, who we saw at every UCTC meets. My last time running against him was probably one of his last races at 29 years old. Coach Haydon had a special meet mainly for the Steeplechasers to get qualifying times for 1960 OT. George Young, Phil Coleman, and Deacon Jones all were there, and all broke the track records and made the time cuts. They had a special 800-meter event, and I stayed on Ted Wheeler's back in outside lane for fear of his high back leg swing. I out kicked him down the last straightaway and won by just 6 feet. He put his arm around me and told me great race, and good luck to me. He was a gentle giant that I remember well with his mustache and long legs. I never knew he was a dozen years older than I, he ran like a collegian to me. Great ability, great running career. His family should know he was a great legend in Chicago. My prayers are with his family this holiday.