|Sport||Track & Field|
Seven world records and two Olympic Games in middle-distance running were a pretty good way for things to turn out for a guy who started as a sprinter.
According to Lloyd Hahn's parents, his running career began at age 4 in Falls City "when he tipped over a beehive and outdistanced the irate inhabitants to the pond."
From 1923 until the day he retired — in 1928 on his 30th birthday — Hahn had many more memorable races.
His first Olympics came in 1924 in Paris, where he finished sixth in the 1,500-meter run. His second Games came four years later, when he competed in the 800 and 1,500 in Amsterdam. While he didn't get out of the first round in the 1,500, Hahn won his opening heat and semifinal in the 800 before finishing fifth in the final.
Those finishes came after Hahn set a world record in the 800 at the 1928 Olympic Trials. Among his six other world records was as a member of the United States' 3,520-yard relay team in 1926.
Hahn won three gold medals at the state track meets in 1919 and '20, setting the record in the 440-yard dash as a senior. Hahn then went one year to Brown University before joining the Boston Athletic Association, which he represented in his two Olympic appearances.
His greatest race may have come at the 1927 Knights of Columbus Games at Madison Square Garden.
There, Hahn defeated famed Swedish schoolmaster Edvin Wide by 4 yards in the indoor mile on St. Patrick’s Day. Hahn's winning time of 4:12.2 was just one-fifth of a second slower than the world record.
Hahn achieved all this despite having to pay his own way to events in high school because, as one historian wrote, "track did not have a high rating in Falls City at the time and the athletic treasury was depleted."
In his retirement, Hahn seldom left his farm southwest of Falls City — until he coached fellow Nebraskan Gil Dodds.
Dodds went on to win the 1943 Sullivan Award winner as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete and lowered the world record in the indoor mile three times.
Competed for: Brown University, Boston Athletic Association and U.S. Olympic team
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Keith Lloyd of Beatrice, NU track star in the mid-1920s
Hahn was No. 6 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »