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Bob Richards, a Pole-Vaulting Legend, Passes Away Peacefully at an Age of 97

By: AB G

The first person to win two gold medals for pole vaulting, Bob Richards died on February 26, 2023, in Waco, Texas beside his family. This athlete was a celebrity in the 1950s and was even featured on cereal boxes for his great accomplishments.

Richards was a clear athlete even from a young age. He was born on February 20, 1926, in Champaign, Illinois, as a "skinny poor kid from Illinois with stuttering speech," as described by his son. Before starting his pole-vaulting career, Richards participated in diving, and tumbling, and even was a quarterback for the football team. In junior high school, he began pole-vaulting and found his true gift.

The first Olympics he participated in was in 1948 in which he claimed a bronze medal for his team, the USA. He competed for two times after that in 1952 and 1956 and won a gold medal each time, and became the very first person to have two gold medals in pole-vaulting. "There will only ever be one Bob Richards. He was one of a kind,” said Brandon Richards, his son.

Bob Richards left a legacy of pole-vaulters. Both his sons competed in pole vaulting and Brandon Richards held a national high school record at one point. Richards loved his family dearly and said that “The family that plays and prays together stays together.” He died accompanied by his family in his sleep. “I will miss him dearly," said Brandon Richards.


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