Dave Wottle

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Dave Wottle
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold 1972 Munich 800 metres

David ("Dave") James Wottle (born August 7, 1950) is a retired American athlete. He was the winner of the 800 meter run at the 1972 Summer Olympics. He was known for wearing a golf cap while running.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dave Wottle was born in Canton, Ohio. During his childhood he was very slim and feeble. His family doctor told him that he needed to do something, such as running, to strengthen himself. The young boy took this advice and started to run.

College athletics[edit]

He earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bowling Green State University in 1973.[1][2] Competing for the university, he finished second to Marty Liquori in the mile run at the 1970 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. During the 1971 season Wottle was hampered by injuries, but a year later in 1972 he won the 1,500 meter race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and at the 1973 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships he won the mile run in a time of 3:57.1, an NCAA record that still stands (1975 was the last year the mile was contested at the NCAA's outdoor meet).

Post-college and Olympic athletics[edit]

Leading up to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, Wottle won the AAU 800 meter title before equaling the world record over 800 meters of 1:44.3 at the US Olympic Trials.

At the Olympics, in the Olympic 800 meter final, Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field, and stayed there for the first 500 m, at which point he started to pass runner after runner up the final straight.[3] He seized the lead in the final stretch to win by just 0.03 seconds. (Also noted is that each 200M split was 26.X, a perfect display of even splits throughout a race). This gained him the nickname of "The Head Waiter". (Another nickname was "Wottle the Throttle").[4] Stunned by his victory, Wottle forgot to remove his cap on the medal stand during the national anthem. This was interpreted by some as a form of protest, but Wottle later apologized at the news conference following the medals ceremony.[5] He also competed in the 1500 meter run at the Munich Olympics, but he was eliminated in the semi-finals.

His signature cap was originally used for practical purposes. He sported long hair at the peak of his career, so the hat kept his hair out of his face. After realizing the cap was part of his identity, and for good luck, he wore it for the remainder of his career.[3]

Professional career in athletics[edit]

Wottle turned professional in 1974, but retired quite soon after that. Later, he became a college track coach at Walsh College (1975–77) and Bethany College (West Virginia) (1977–81).

Career after athletics[edit]

Wottle served as an administrator at Rhodes College from August 1983 until his retirement in June 2012. He was Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for 28 years before spending his final year at the school as the Special Assistant to the President.[2][6] He then served as the Interim Vice-President for Enrollment Management at Millsaps College.[7] Since September 2013, Wottle has been the interim Vice President for Enrollment at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. [8] [9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Records
Preceded by
New Zealand Peter Snell
Men's 800 metres World Record Holder
equalled time of Peter Snell and Ralph Doubell

1972-07-01 – 1973-06-27
Succeeded by
Italy Marcello Fiasconaro
Awards
Preceded by
Robert W. Ash
Bruce Bannon
Blake L. Ferguson
Jerry A. Heidenreich
Sidney A. Sink
NCAA Top Five Award
Class of 1974
David A. Blandino
Paul D. Collins
David D. Gallagher
Gary Hall, Sr.
Dave Wottle
Succeeded by
John R. Baiorunos
Pat Haden
Randy L. Hall
Jarrett T. Hubbard
Tony Waldrop