Sim Iness

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Sim Iness
Personal information
Born July 9, 1930

Simeon ("Sim") Garland Iness (July 9, 1930 in Keota, Oklahoma – May 23, 1996 in Porterville, California) was an American discus thrower and Olympic gold medalist.

As a child of sharecroppers, in 1934 his family left Oklahoma due to the on set of the dust bowl and moved to the small San Joaquin Valley town of Tulare, California. There he became lifelong friends with classmate and teammate at Tulare Union High School and Olympic team-mate, decathlon champion Bob Mathias. Weeks after his high school graduation, and on his 18th birthday, Iness placed 6th in the discus in the 1948 Olympic Trials.

Iness first attended college at Compton Junior College, where he won the National Junior College discus championship in 1949. He was also a member of the winning Compton football squad along with future NFL Hall of Famer "Hurricane" Hugh McElhenny, which won the 1948 Junior Rose Bowl game, becoming National Junior College champions. He then transferred to the University of Southern California where he won the NCAA discus championship in 1952 and 1953.

Iness competed for the United States in the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland in the discus throw where he won the gold medal with a throw of 55.03 m. His gold medal triumph started the longest USA winning streak in the discus event in modern Olympic history. He set the discus world's record on June 28, 1953 in Lincoln, Nebraska at 57,93 m, being the first man to throw over 190 feet. He went on to appear in two Hollywood films, "Lady Godiva of Coventry" with Maureen O'Hara and "Sign of the Pagan" with Jack Palance and Jeff Chandler, both in 1954. He was an Olympic torch bearer for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics.

After his Olympic and world record triumph, Iness worked the rest of his life as a high school and college physical education teacher, track and football coach, and education counselor. "Sim Iness Gymnasium" can be found on the campus of Sim's alma-mater, Tulare Union High School. The Sim Iness Collection is housed at the Tulare City Historical Museum.

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