Pitt, community observe Olympic moment anniversary
While the month of September marks a new beginning for the athletic and academic year, the beginning of this past August marked a special sports moment for Connellsville and the University of Pittsburgh.
This first week of last month was the 75th anniversary of former Pitt track and field star John Woodruff’s historic 800 meter performance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
A native of Connellsville, Woodruff was a 21-year old freshman at Pitt when he captured the gold medal, crossing the finish line at 1:52.9. He earned his spot on the U.S. team by placing first in the Olympic trials earlier that year.
In one of the most politically charged Olympics, the 1936 games were overshadowed by the heightened power of the Nazi regime, spreading religious and racial hatred throughout much of Europe.
Woodruff was the first African American to win gold at the 1936 Olympic Games. He ran track and won the Amateur Athletic Union title in the 800-meters in 1937.
He went on to graduate from Pitt in 1939 with a degree in sociology and then earned a master’s degree from New York University. He served four years in the military.
A member of the first Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame Class, which was announced in 2009, Woodruff died at the age 92 in 2007.
“John Woodruff’s historic and courageous achievement at the 1936 Olympics will always be a significant and special sports moment in this country’s history,” said E.J. Borghetti, the school’s senior associate athletic director. “So obviously, this will always be honored, cherished and remembered with great respect at the University of Pittsburgh.”
Pony League wrap-up
Laredo, Texas, won the first Pony League championship for a team from the south zone since East Cobb, Ga.., in 2004. It marked the eighth time in 15 years and third time in four seasons that an American team won the Pony League World Series.
Laredo completed its 5-0 run at the International event with a 10-9 victory over Chinese Taipei in the championship game.
Chinese Taipei was denied a second title in three years having won the 2009 title.
This marked the 60th Pony League World Series contested at Lew Hayes Field in Washington. Since 1984, this worldwide event has taken place every year at Washington Park.