Ralph Metcalfe

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameRalph Harold•Metcalfe
Used nameRalph•Metcalfe
Born29 May 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
Died10 October 1978 in Chicago, Illinois (USA)
Measurements180 cm / 82 kg
AffiliationsMarquette Golden Eagles, Milwaukee (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 2
Bronze 1
Total 4


Although some 50 years later Jesse Owens is remembered as the great sprinter of the 30s, Ralph Metcalfe was on many counts Owens’ superior. Metcalfe was at his best between the 1932 and 1936 Olympics and he won both sprints at the AAU and NCAA for three straight years (1932-34) and won the AAU 200m in 1935-36 to give him a record of five straight wins in this event. Metcalfe, who attended Marquette, equalled the world record of 10.3 for 100m six times, but only three of those clockings reached the record books. In 1932 he ran a wind-assisted 19.8 for 220y on a straight track in Toronto to become the first man to break the 20-second barrier. In the 1932 Olympic 200m, Metcalfe may have been unfairly deprived of a gold medal when it was later shown that the lane in which he ran was about two meters longer than it should have been. Metcalfe graciously declined a protest and a re-run because the American threesome of Eddie Tolan, George Simpson, and himself had swept the medals in the event. Ralph Metcalfe later became well known in Chicago politics, serving on the city council under Mayor Daley for many years. In 1970, Metcalfe was elected to the U.S. Congress from the 1st District in Illinois, serving until his death. He also gave yeoman service to the USOC, being elected to their board of directors in 1969.

Personal Bests: 100 – 10.38 (1932); 200 – 20.6 (1933).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Ralph Metcalfe
100 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
200 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) United States DNS
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Ralph Metcalfe
100 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
4 × 100 metres Relay, Men (Olympic) United States 1 Gold

Special Notes