Full name: Harry Livingston Hillman, Jr.
Height: 5'11" (180 cm)
Weight: 146 lbs (66 kg)
Born: September 8, 1881 in Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: August 9, 1945 in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States
Affiliations: NYAC, New York (USA)
Country: United States
Medals: 3 Gold, 1 Silver (4 Total)
1904 Olympics: 200 m hurdles (1st)
1904 Olympics: 400 m - 49.20 (1st)
1904 Olympics: 400 m hurdles (1st)
1906 Olympics: 400 m (5th)
1908 Olympics: 400 m hurdles - 55.30 (2nd)
Originally scheduled for Chicago, the 1904 Olympics Games were moved to St. Louis and held in conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase.
The program included more sports than in Paris, but with only 13 nations sending athletes, the first Olympics to be staged in the United States had a decidedly All-American flavor—over 500 of the 687 competitors were Americans. Little wonder the home team won 80 percent of the medals.
The rout was nearly total in track and field where the U.S.–led by triple-winners Ray Ewry, Archie Hahn, Jim Lightbody and Harry Hillman–took 23 of 25 gold medals and swept 20 events.
The marathon, which was run over dusty roads in brutally hot weather, was the most bizarre event of the Games. Thomas Hicks of the U.S. won, but only after his handlers fed him painkillers during the race. And an impostor nearly stole the victory when Fred Lorz, who dropped out after nine miles, was seen trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes. Amused that officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony. Banned for life by the AAU, Lorz was reinstated a year later and won the 1905 Boston Marathon.
Hillman scored a unique triple victory at the 1904 Olympics, winning the 200-meter and 400-meter hurdles and the 400-meter run. He had Olympic record times in all three events, but his time in the 400-meter hurdles wasn't admitted as a record because he knocked over the last hurdle.
En route to Greece for the "intercalated" Olympics of 1906, Hillman was one of a half-dozen athletes who were injured by an enormous wave that washed over the deck of the ship. He finished only fifth in the 400-meter run, his only event that year. Hillman won a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1908 Olympics. He and Charley Bacon of the U. S. went over the last hurdle simultaneously, but Bacon won the run to the tape to win in a world record 55.0 seconds.
On April 24, 1909, Hillman and Lawson Robertson set a record that has never been equalled, running the 100-yard three-legged race in 11.0 seconds.
1908 Olympics 400 hurdles
From Ian McGowan / Winged Fist Organization
Charles Bacon (above right) clearing a hurdle to defeat fellow U.S. team member Harry Hillman of the New York Athletic Club with a world record breaking time of 55 seconds in the 400 meter hurdles.
(Ian McGowan / Winged Fist Organization)
The men's 400 meters hurdles was the longer of two hurdling events at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. It was the third time the event had been featured at the Olympics. The Olympic record was beat three times in the course of the Games. Ten sets of hurdles were set on the course. The hurdles were 3 feet (= 91.5 centimeter) tall and were placed 35 meters apart beginning 45 meters from the starting line. The competition was held from Monday, July 20, 1908 to Wednesday, July 22, 1908. 15 runners from six nations competed.
The track coach at Dartmouth College from 1910 until his death, Hillman advised hurdlers to swallow raw eggs, which he believed to be "excellent for the wind and stomach." He was on the Olympic track and field coaching staff in 1924, 1928, and 1932 Summer Olympics. One of his most famous athletes was hurdler Earl Thomson, the winner of the gold medal in the 110 metres hurdles at the 1920 Summer Olympics.