Martin Sheridan

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Competed in Intercalated Games
Full nameMartin Joseph•Sheridan
Used nameMartin•Sheridan
Born28 March 1881 in Bohola, Mayo (IRL)
Died27 March 1918 in New York, New York (USA)
Measurements190 cm / 88 kg
AffiliationsI-AAC, Queens, New York (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG IG
Gold 3 2
Silver 0 3
Bronze 1 0
Total 4 5


The Irish-born Martin Sheridan was the greatest all-round athlete of his time and thru 2014, his total of 9 Olympic medals has been bettered by only 11 Americans. In addition to winning the discus at the 1904, 1906 and 1908 Olympic Games, Sheridan won the shot in 1906 and the Greek-style discus in 1908. To these five gold medals he added three silver medals in 1906 in the stone throw and the standing jumps and a bronze medal in the standing long jump in 1908.

Inspired by his older brother, Richard, who won the AAU discus in 1901 and 1902, Martin himself won the title four times. He also won the AAU shot in 1904 and three times was the AAU All-Around champion, setting a new world record each time. Further proof of his versatility came at the 1908 Olympics when he placed ninth in the triple jump, and was also the non-pulling captain of the United States tug-of-war team against Liverpool Police. Sheridan’s first cousin Jim Clarke was in the British team. The discus was undoubtedly Sheridan’s best event; in addition to his three Olympic titles and four AAU championships, he improved the world best in the discus 15 times between 1902 and 1909. Sheridan almost certainly missed another gold medal when he was forced to withdraw from the 1906 pentathlon due to injury.

Apart from his prowess as a competitor, Martin Sheridan has passed into Olympic lore with his remark to the press at the 1908 Olympics, where he was quoted as saying, “This flag dips to no earthly King!” after the Michigan weightman, Ralph Rose, refused to lower the American flag as he passed the Royal Box at the Opening Ceremony.

Like many of the great Irish-American athletes of the time, Sheridan was employed by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and was the personal bodyguard of the New York governor whenever he visited the city. Sheridan, who had come to America in 1897, retired from active competition in 1911 and died of pneumonia at the early age of 36. In his honor, the NYPD began the Martin Sheridan Medal for Valor award, given to policeman (from 1921-73) exhibiting significant valor in action.

Personal Bests: TJ – 14.21 (1905); SP – 14.74 (1908); DT – 44.01 (1908); HT – 162-8 (49.58) (1906); JT – 120-3 (36.65) (1908).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1904 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Martin Sheridan
Shot Put, Men (Olympic) 4
Shot Put, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) 1
56-pound Weight Throw, Men (Olympic) DNS
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) 1
Shot Put, Handicap, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) 3
Discus Throw, Handicap, Men (Olympic (non-medal)) 1
1906 Intercalated Games Athletics USA Martin Sheridan
110 metres Hurdles, Men (Intercalated) DNS
High Jump, Men (Intercalated) DNS
Standing High Jump, Men (Intercalated) =2 Silver
Pole Vault, Men (Intercalated) DNS
Long Jump, Men (Intercalated) DNS
Standing Long Jump, Men (Intercalated) 2 Silver
Triple Jump, Men (Intercalated) DNS
Shot Put, Men (Intercalated) 1 Gold
Stone Throw, Men (Intercalated) 2 Silver
Discus Throw, Men (Intercalated) 1 Gold
Discus Throw, Greek Style, Men (Intercalated) 4
Pentathlon (Ancient), Men (Intercalated) DNF
1908 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Martin Sheridan
Standing High Jump, Men (Olympic) 16
Standing Long Jump, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
Triple Jump, Men (Olympic) 9
Shot Put, Men (Olympic) AC
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Discus Throw, Greek Style, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Javelin Throw, Freestyle, Men (Olympic) DNS

Olympic family relations

Special Notes