Mal Whitfield, American middle-distance runner, Died at 91


Malvin Greston Whitfield was born on October 11, 1924, and died on November 18, 2015.

He was an American athlete, goodwill ambassador, and an airman.

Nicknamed “Marvelous Mal”, he was the Olympic champion in the 800 meters at the 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, and a member of the 1948 gold medal team in the 4 × 400 meters relay.

Overall, Malvin was a five-time Olympic medalist (three gold, one silver, one bronze).

After his competitive career, Malvin worked for forty-seven years as a coach, goodwill ambassador, and athletic mentor in Africa on behalf of the United States Information Service.

Malvin was born in Bay City, Texas. He moved to the Watts district of Los Angeles when he was 4; at that age, his father died, and his mother died when he was 12, after which he was raised by his older sister.

He sneaked into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the 1932 Summer Olympic Games, where he watched Eddie Tolan defeat Ralph Metcalfe in the 100 meter race, an event that spurred his own Olympic goals.

Malvin joined the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

After World War II, Malvin remained in the military, but also enrolled at the Ohio State University.

In the early 1950s, Malvin also served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, where he served as a tail gunner and flew 27 combat missions.

Malvin won the NCAA title while at Ohio State in the 800 m in 1948 and 880 yd (800 m) in 1949.

After leaving the university he won the AAU title from 1949 to 1951 at 800 m, in 1953 and 1954 at 880 yd (800 m) and in 1952 at 400 m.

Malvin also won the 800 m at the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He was the father of CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield and accomplished high jumper Ed Wright.

In 1967, Malvin published an inspirational memoir, Learning to Run.

In 1989, Malvin founded the Mal Whitfield Foundation for the promotion of sports, academics, and culture.

The foundation has distributed 5,000 athletic scholarships.

Malvin passed away at his home in Washington, D.C. on the night of November 18, 2015, aged 91.