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Michael Denny "Mike" Larrabee

American athlete Michael Denny "Mike" Larrabee was born on December 2, 1933. He was a double Olympic champion in 1964.

Born in Ventura, California, Larrabee was a young running talent in the mid 1950s. In 1952, his athletic performances earned him a scholarship in the University of Southern California, which he graduated as geologist. But the injuries hampered his running career, until he adopted a new weight training program as he turned 30, which helped him to produce his best ever season in 1964.

At first he won his only AAU title in 400 m, then he equaled the existing 400 m world record of 44.9 in winning the 1964 Olympic Trials in Los Angeles. In Tokyo Olympics final, Larrabee was in fifth place going into the final turn, when he passed everyone in front of him with a burst of speed to win the gold medal in 45.1. Larrabee also ran the second leg on United States gold medal winning 4 x 400 m relay team that won in the world record time of 3:00.7.

After the Tokyo Olympics Larrabee worked as a mathematics teacher, ran a beverage distributing company with his brother and part-time as Adidas’ U.S. shoe representative to track and field, a position that allowed him to travel and keep connected to the sport.

Larrabee remained physically active well after his running career had wound down, taking up tennis, scuba diving, skiing, hiking (for which he raised llamas as pack animals) and mountain climbing. Although he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in 2001 and was only expected to live a few weeks, he continued to live life to the fullest for two more years, thanks to chemotherapy treatments.



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