CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Illinois family lost one of its most decorated athletes with the passing of Bob Richards on Sunday, February 26, 2023. Richards passed at the age of 97 “peacefully in his sleep and surrounded by loved ones” according to his son Brandon’s social media post.
He was a three-time Olympic medalist and the first person to ever win two gold medals in the pole vault. He won bronze in 1948 and his golds in 1952 and 1956. He was also the first athlete ever to appear on the front of the Wheaties cereal box in 1958.
Richards was a six-time NCAA champion and held the ranking of No. 1 pole vaulter for eight straight years. He was inducted into the U.S. National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983. He was also inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020. Before his death, Richards was the oldest living Olympic track and field champion.
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