Mathias was born in Tulare, California. As
a young boy he was rather thin and anemic.
People never thought or even dreamed of him becoming an Olympic star, let alone
the youngest track star ever.
His parents took good care
of him and helped him build a muscular body by the time he was in high school.
In high school he played
three sports - American football,
basketball and track.
He was wholeheartedly devoted to track.
Because of his determination and will power Bob Mathias was one of the
foremost athletes in his high school area.
Because he showed so much
athletic ability and participated in many sports his coach told him he should
decathlon in the 1948 U.S trials. He
agreed to try even though he had never before competed in four of the ten events.
He and his coach worked very hard on the sports resulting in his
ending up qualifying for the National Olympic Tryouts.
In the National Olympic
Tryouts Bob Mathias competed against the most experienced decathlon
athletes. He ended up winning first
and earning the
The decathlon was held over
two days. For ten hours Bob ran,
jumped, and threw. He finished in
the top ranking. The next day the
weather was horrible. There was
heavy fog and it poured. By dusk
the decathlon was not yet
over, there was still a 1500-meter race left to run.
At this point Bob Mathias was on top.
He knew if he ran a good race he would win the event.
Bob Mathias came in first in the race.
Afterwards he said,” I wouldn’t do this again in a million years.”
He was back four years later. He was stronger, faster and better than ever. He won the event easily. Bob Mathias is the only man to win the hardest Olympic sport, the decathlon, two times in a row.