Harrison “Bones” Dillard’s is a story of firsts. He was crowned Olympic 100-meter champion at the first Games to be held post World War II in the first ever Olympic race to be decided by a photo finish. This makes him the oldest living Olympic 100-meter Champion. He doubled his gold medal tally with victory in the 100-meter relay at the last Olympic Games to be held in London prior to 2012.
Interestingly the 1948 result came was a bit of a surprise. The favorite for the 100-meter title that year had been AuthorHouse author Dillard’s team mate, Bernie Ewell. In fact it is interesting to watch the coverage of the race as Ewell can been seen celebrating what he thought was his victory until Bronze medalist, Lloyd LaBeach, informed him, “You don’t win. Bones win.”
Dillard’s preferred event (in which he was ranked number one in the world) was the 110-meter hurdles. However a disaster at the US Olympic trials meant he did not qualify. The problem was that he had perfected his start to such an extent that it had negatively impacted on his rhythm over the first hurdle. It was this start that would push him to victory in the straight sprint.
Four years later, at the 1958 Helsinki Games, AuthorHouse published author Harrison Dillard became the first man to ever win both Olympic 100-meter and 110-meter hurdles titles. He remains the only athlete to ever achieve this feat and he himself feels it is highly unlikely that it will be repeated. Although he thinks it would be interesting if Usain Bolt were to try hurdling.
Dillard increased his total Olympic Gold medal haul to four with another team effort in the 100 meter-hurdles. Theses performances are the stuff of legends and mean Harrison Dillard is quite simply one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.
A Champion Returns
Dillard’s story is now recorded for posterity through AuthorHouse in his book Bones: The Life and Times of Harrison Dillard with his Senior Advisor, Michael McIntosh. The pair recently travelled with fellow athletic great and close friend, Herb McKinley, back to where it all started 64 years ago. Dillard launched his memoir during the London 2012 Games.
Harrison Dillard’s slender frame as a youth earned him the nickname “Bones.” His physique however, belied an athletic prowess driven by a spirit that has seen him inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame. He also served a distinguished military career as one of the original Buffalo Soldiers and worked as a civic leader with the Cleveland Board of Education.
While growing up the AuthorHouse author’s hero was fellow Cleveland native, Jessie Owens. He had seen Owens upon his triumphant return from the 1936 Berlin Games where he had single-handedly dispelled the Nazi myth of Arian superiority.
“As a small boy I went to see Jessie Owens’ homecoming parade in Cleveland after the 1936 Olympics. He spied me and my friends. He winked and said, ‘Hey kids, how are you doing?’ I ran home and nearly tore the screen door off the hinges. My mother was in the kitchen, and I could hardly contain myself. ‘Mama, Mama!’ I crowed. ‘I just saw Jessie Owens, and I’m going to be just like him!’ She smiled and said ‘Yes son, I am sure you will be’,” said Dillard of the inspiration behind his athletic career. In fact Jessie Owens would later present Dillard with his first pair of running shoes to support his ambitions.
The Guiding Light Behind Bones: The Life and Times of Harrison Dillard
Dillard, as with many truly great individuals, is extremely modest about his achievements. The driving force behind the book was his Senior Advisor, Michael McIntosh who, thankfully, convinced Dillard as to the importance of recording his story for posterity. Bones: The Life and Times of Harrison Dillard is a culmination of the intimate knowledge that only a 35 year friendship can garner.
“Bones and I have been friends for over 35 years. Over that time I have gotten to know him not only as a great athlete, but as a remarkable human being. His self-motivation and determination have driven him to all of his amazing achievements and it is fitting that his story start being told in London, where it all began 64 years ago,” said McIntosh.
How to Write a Book with the Determination of a World-Beating Athlete
Bones: The Life and Times of Harrison Dillard is McIntosh’s first writing project. He says it is the greatest challenge he has ever undertaken; a grand statement from a man who once survived getting married, moving house and changing jobs all in the space of two weeks! The greatest thing he says he respects about his great friend, Harrison Dillard, is his determination to overcome every one of life’s obstacles This is definitely a trait both gentlemen share.
Leaving a Lasting Impression
A fine example of Dillard’s ability to affect others is the number of long-lasting friendships he has fostered. And it is an esteemed list that includes some impressive individuals in their own rights. Dillard was recently interviewed in London by The Telegraph newspaper alongside fellow hurdling great, Ed Moses. The foreword to his memoir is written by legendary comic actor Bill Cosby. Dillard and Cosby met in the 1970s and Cosby was delighted when he heard a book was being written about his friend’s life. Cosby summed his friend up perfectly when wrote:
“That’s the beauty of this man. He never puts on airs, but you can sense that there’s something special about him. He’s not begging anybody to recognize him ‘cause he knows who he is and what he has done.”
Thankfully Bones: The Life and Times of Harrison Dillard now sits alongside the great man’s places in the Olympic and USA Track and Field Halls of Fame and the Harrison Dillard Bikeway in his hometown of Cleveland to ensure his legacy endures for future generations to appreciate and emulate.