Matt McGrath

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMatthew John "Matt"•McGrath
Used nameMatt•McGrath
Born20 December 1875 in Nenagh (IRL)
Died29 January 1941 in New York, New York (USA)
Measurements182 cm / 115 kg
AffiliationsNYAC, New York (USA) / I-AAC, Queens, New York (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 2
Bronze 0
Total 3


Matt McGrath made his Olympic début in 1908 at the age of 30 and in 1928, as a 50-year-old, he came within an ace of becoming the first U.S. track & field athlete to compete in five Olympic Games. After finishing second at the 1928 Eastern Olympic Trials, he had an off day at the Final Trials and finished in fifth place. Frank Connor and Ken Caskey, both of whom McGrath had beaten at the Eastern meet, finished ahead of him and made the Olympic team. There was a public outcry over McGrath’s omission from the team and although he went to Amsterdam after a subscription fund had been raised to pay his fare, he was surprisingly not allowed to compete. Still, McGrath is remembered as one of the great hammer throwers of all time. He won seven AAU titles, set two world records in 1907 and 1911, and his 1912 Olympic record was not beaten until 1936. He also won the AAU 56-lb. weight throw title seven times and, in addition to his three Olympic medals, placed fifth in the hammer in 1920, although he competed with a badly twisted knee. After emigrating from Ireland, McGrath was a long-time New York city policeman.

Personal Best: HT – 57.10 (1911).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Matt McGrath
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) DNS
Discus Throw, Greek Style, Men (Olympic) DNS
Hammer Throw, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
Javelin Throw, Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS
Tug-Of-War USA Matt McGrath
Tug-Of-War, Men (Olympic) United States 5
1912 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Matt McGrath
Discus Throw, Both Hands, Men (Olympic) DNS
Hammer Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1920 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Matt McGrath
56-pound Weight Throw, Men (Olympic) DNS
Hammer Throw, Men (Olympic) 5
1924 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Matt McGrath
Hammer Throw, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver


McGrath’s DOB varies in multiple sources. Also seen are dates of 18, 21, and 28 December, and years of 1876, 1877, and 1878. The date of 28 December 1875 comes from his official birth registration in Ireland, and 21 December 1875 was his baptismal date. There is some concern that the date of 28 December was faked to avoid a legal penalty for late registration. McGrath himself later used 20 December as the birthday and that day was on his passport. His gravestone lists the date as 18 December 1875 (