Jerry Welbourn

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJerome Lowell "Jerry"•Welbourn
Used nameJerry•Welbourn
Born7 January 1932 in Dayton, Ohio (USA)
Measurements178 cm / 72 kg
AffiliationsPotomac BC, Washington (USA)
NOC United States


Jerry Welbourn competed for the United States in canoeing at the 1972 Olympics when he was 40-years-old, but it was really only a footnote to a fascinating life. Welbourn attended The Ohio State University, where he starred as a pole vaulter. Welbourn won Big 10 Championships in the pole vault, won the Penn Relays in 1952, and was AAU indoor champion in 1954. He also won vault titles at the Drake Relays and Southern Relays. He was ranked eighth in the world by Track & Field News in 1954 in the pole vault. Welbourn cleared 15 feet in 1956, making him only the seventh vaulter over that height.

Welbourn took up canoeing in 1965 on the Charles River after being stationed at the US Army Laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts. He competed at the 1970 World Championships and was US Champion in the K-2 over both 1,000 and 10K metres in 1969. He later competed for the Potomac Boat Club.

After graduating in 1952 Welbourn stayed at Ohio State and earned a degree in veterinary medicine in 1956. He also joined the US Air Force and would eventually become a career officer, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. The Air Force sent him back for further schooling with Welbourn earning a masters’ degree in food technology from MIT in 1961, and a PhD in food science from Purdue in 1969. He was stationed at the Pentagon from 1969-76 as director of Subsistence Management Policy, and later worked for McCormick & Co. in Baltimore, in their research and development section. He was also assistant coach for the US canoe team at the 1976 Olympics.

After his retirement from the military Welbourn settled in Flagstaff, Arizona, and resumed pole vaulting, winning his age group in 1985 at the US Masters Championships. He then moved to Colorado where he lived in a log cabin and started working for a log cabin building company as a sales rep.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Canoe Sprint (Canoeing) USA Jerry Welbourn
Kayak Fours, 1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) United States 4 h2 r2/4