When Pat McDonnell’s sister landed at Ellis Island after her sea voyage from Ireland, immigration officials pinned a name tag on her and spelled the name McDonald. She was taking no chances of being deported so she, and all the McDonnells who came after her, accepted the name McDonald. Inspired by the feats of his countrymen John Flanagan, Matt McGrath, and Martin Sheridan, Pat McDonald initially had aspirations of becoming a hammer thrower, but he showed more aptitude as a shot putter After placing second to Ralph Rose at the AAU in 1909 and 1910, he took the title in Rose’s absence in 1911 and defeated Rose at the 1912 championships as well as the 1912 Olympics. McDonald won both the shot and the 56-lb. weight event at the AAU championships in 1914, 1919, and 1920 and competed at both events at the Antwerp Olympics. He won the weight throw and placed fourth in the shot. McDonald’s career was remarkable for its longevity. When he won his Olympic gold medal in 1920, he was aged 42, making him the oldest Olympic track & field champion ever. He is also the oldest AAU champion ever – he won the last of an amazing 16 titles in the 56-lb. weight throw in 1933, at 55 years old. McDonald spent most of his adult life in the United States as a member of the New York Police Department, working with the Traffic Squad.
Personal Best: SP – 50-4½ (15.34) (1912).
Although all available US documents state that he was born in 1881 Irish parish records reveal that he was actually born in 1878 and apparently lied about his age on arrival in America.