In 1904, 19-year-old Ralph Rose, a 6-6 (1.98), 235 lb. (107 kg.) giant, won three Olympic medals. His best performance in St. Louis came in the shot put when, after trailing Wesley Coe, he came back to take the Olympic title with a new world record of 48-7 (14.81). Rose lost his world record to the Irishman, Denis Horgan, later in the season, and Coe made a further improvement in 1905, but Rose recaptured the record in 1907 and beat both Horgan and Coe at the 1908 Olympics. By 1909, Rose’s weight had risen to a then massive 286 lbs. (130 kg.) and, in winning his third straight AAU title, he became the first man to break the 50-foot barrier. One week later Rose established the first official IAAF record, but his greatest day had come earlier in the season in his hometown of Healdsburg, California, when he won the shot put at 54-4 (16.56) and threw the hammer 178-5 (54.38). Both marks bettered existing world records, but they were never ratified because they were made in an unsanctioned meet, and there was some question about their measurement. The shot put mark would not be bettered, however, until 1934. Apart from his four AAU shot titles, Rose won the discus twice and was the inaugural AAU javelin champion in 1909. Rose attended the University of Michigan and later studied law at Chicago. He was the flag-bearer in 1908 who refused to dip the flag as he walked past the English king, leading to the tradition which survives to this day. He died of typhoid fever in 1913, aged only 28.
Personal Bests: SP – 51-0¾ (15.56) (1909); DT – 40.81 (1910); HT – 52.61 (1907).