Adolph Plummer

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Ulis Williams
Ulis Williams and Adolph Plummer 1961.jpg
Plummer (right) in 1961
Personal information
Born January 3, 1938[1]
Brooklyn, U.S.
Died November 30, 2015 (aged 77)
Denver, U.S.
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 200 m, 400 m
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 200 m – 20.5 (1963)
400 m – 44.6 (1963)[1]

Adolph Plummer (January 3, 1938 – November 30, 2015)[2][3] was an American track and field athlete. He is best known for breaking the world record in the 440 yard dash in 1963, the last runner to hold the 400 m record with a time recorded for the longer 440 yards.[4]

Track career[edit]

During his time running at the University of New Mexico (UNM, 1959–1963), Plummer was a member of an outstanding Lobos track team. In 1961, Plummer became the NCAA champion in the 440 yards event. He was a three-time All-American and won four titles in the 440 yards event and three at 220 yards in the Skyline Conference and Western Athletic Conference (WAC).[5]

On May 25, 1963, running in his last race for UNM at the WAC Championships in Tempe, Arizona, Plummer shocked future Olympic champion Ulis Williams on his home track with a 44.9 second world record in the 440 yards (Williams also broke the old world record by 0.1 second).[6] Plummer shattered the old mark set by Glenn Davis five years previously by the huge margin of 8 tenths of a second. Plummer's only memory of the race was hearing the starter say "set" before the race began.[7] Plummer's time also tied the existing world record in the shorter 400 meters (440 yards is 402.34 meters).[4][8][9] This was the first ever 440 run under 45 seconds.[10]

In 1964, Plummer attempted to qualify for the Olympic Games but trailed in his heat due to the flare-up of an arthritic knee, a condition that was to eventually end his athletics career.[11][12]

In 1965, Plummer returned to the track specializing in the 220 yard/200 meter event. That year he became USA national champion at 220 yards and was ranked number one in the world at that distance.(See below).[13]

Accolades and awards[edit]

In 1976, Plummer was inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.[14]

In 2012, Plummer was presented with a Living Legend Awards by the UNM Black Alumni Chapter.[15]

Plummer has also been inducted into the UNM Alumni Lettermen’s Association Hall of Honor.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Plummer was a native of Brooklyn, New York City and served in the United States Air Force before attending UNM.[5]

After attending UNM, Plummer moved to Colorado and worked as an educator in the Denver public schools system.

In the mid-1970s (1974–76 in particular), Plummer's tenure as an educator at Cole Junior H.S., in Denver, coincided with the earliest days of Court-Ordered Busing for Integration. His involvement was instrumental in fostering tolerance – resulting in a successful, peaceful learning environment for Denver's suburban and urban students suddenly exposed to new cohorts and lifestyles and attitudes.

He also served for a time as an associate dean in the Athletic Department at UNM in charge of education.[10]

Plummer died on November 30, 2015 in Denver at the age of 77.[3]

Track and field rankings[edit]

Plummer was ranked among the best in the USA and the world in the 440 yard/400 meter sprint event in the period 1961–64 and the 220 yard/200 meter sprint event in the period 1963–1966, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[16][17][18][19]

USA Championships[edit]

Plummer competed in the 220 yard/220 meter and 440 yard/400 meter events in the USA National Track and Field Championships between 1961 and 1966.[20] [21]

USA Championships
Year 220y 440y
1961 3rd
1962 5th
1963 2nd
1964 4th
1965 1st
1966 2nd


  1. ^ a b Adolph Plummer.
  2. ^ Imre Matrahazi (ed.) (2015) Progression of IAAF World Records, IAAF Athletics, p. 528.
  3. ^ a b UNM track star Plummer dies, Albuquerque Journal, November 30, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "12th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Berlin 2009" (PDF). Monte Carlo: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. 2009. pp. Pages 546, 547. Archived from the original (pdf) on August 6, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Lobo Great Adolph Plummer Passes Away, University of New Mexico Athletics Official Site, December 1, 2015.
  6. ^ New Mexico Track & Field 2007, History & Records, University of New Mexico Athletics Official Site, p.78
  7. ^ Garcia, Nasario (2005). Saints & Seasons: A Guide to New Mexico's Most Popular Saints. United States: La Herencia Publishing. p. 67. ISBN 0974302260.
  8. ^ Nick Georgandis, History of the 400-Meter Dash,, January 23, 2014.
  9. ^ "UNM 125: Plummer cracks record". May 29, 1963. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  10. ^ a b V B Price (May 29, 1963). "Adolph Plummer, Roger Bannister, and Bob Beamon". New Mexico Mercury. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  11. ^ "Lehner, Burly Sparkle in Olympic Trials Test". Eugene Register. July 5, 1964.
  12. ^ Richard Hymans. "Olympic Trials History". Track and Field News. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Bob Myers, Associated Press (June 28, 1965). "Track Victors Euro-bound after AAU Meet". Silver City Daily News.
  14. ^ "Adolph Plummer 1976 Sports Hall of Fame Inductee". New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. September 23, 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Lobo legends will be recognized". Albuquerque Journal. September 23, 2012.
  16. ^ "World Rankings Index—Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index—Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "World Rankings Index—Men's 400 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index—Men's 400 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "USA Outdoor Track and Field Champions, Men's 200 m". USA Track and Field.
  21. ^ "USA Outdoor Track and Field Champions, Men's 400 m". USA Track and Field.