Harrison Dillard

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameWilliam Harrison•Dillard
Used nameHarrison•Dillard
Born8 July 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Died15 November 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
Measurements178 cm / 69 kg
AffiliationsBaldwin-Wallace College
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 4
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 4


“Bones” Dillard caused a major Olympic upset when he won the 100 m in 1948. He went to the 1948 AAU with an unprecedented streak of 82 consecutive hurdle victories, but was surprisingly beaten by Bill Porter. A week later, at the Final Trials, Porter won again and Dillard failed to finish. But he made the Olympic team by placing third in the 100 m and then took the Olympic title. Four years later he made no mistakes, winning the hurdles at Helsinki, and winning the gold on the sprint relay team for a second time. Originally inspired by the victory parade in his native Cleveland for Jesse Owens after the 1936 Olympics, Dillard developed into one of the most consistent hurdlers the world has ever seen. Owens encouraged Dillard to take up hurdling and later gave him the spikes he had worn in Berlin. Dillard went on to win 14 AAU titles and six NCAA championships, while attending Baldwin-Wallace College, as well as setting world records in both the high and low hurdles.

Dillard was a sharpshooter with the famed Buffalo Soldiers, the 92nd Infantry Division, which were African-American troops who fought valiantly in the Italian campaign from 1943-45 during World War II. He later was in charge of communications for the Cleveland Indians for 10 years. He also had a television and radio show and was responsible for the city’s educational department spending, as the business chief of the Cleveland Board of Education. In 1955 he was given the Sullivan Award, emblematic of the top American amateur athlete for the year.

Personal Bests: 100 – 10.50 (1948); 110H – 13.6y (1948).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Harrison Dillard
100 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) United States 1 Gold
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Harrison Dillard
110 metres Hurdles, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes