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Otis Crandall Davis

American athlete Otis Crandall Davis was born on July 12, 1932. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he won a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.

Most of America's great track and field champions began their careers in high school or even earlier. But Otis Davis, born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, took a different route. Basketball was his earliest game and he didn't take up track and the 400 m dash until age 26, as a student at the University of Oregon.

Two years later, in 1960, was Otis Davis' year. At the Olympic Games in Rome, he won by a hair over Germany's Carl Kaufmann, setting a world record of 44.9 seconds and becoming the first man to break the heralded 45-second barrier. Two days later, Davis and Kaufmann met again for the 4 x 400 m relay final. He held off the challenge, anchoring home the gold with another world record performance of 3:02.2.

A torch-bearer for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Davis, a former innovative teacher, coach, and counselor in the United States and abroad, is also an elected member of the University of Oregon, State of Oregon, and New Jersey Sports Writers' Halls of Fame. Otis Davis is currently president of the Tri-States Olympic Alumni Association, which he helped found.



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