|Full name||Arnold Milton Sowell|
|Born||April 6, 1935 (age 83)|
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||130 lb (59 kg)|
Arnold "Arnie" Milton Sowell (born April 6, 1935 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a former middle distance runner from the United States, who represented his native country at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He finished fourth in the 800 m,.
He is best known for winning the gold medal in the men's 800 metres event during the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City. Sowell also set the world indoor record for the 880-yard run in 1957 at 1:50.3 s and tied the world record for the 1,000 yards of 2:08.2 s in 1955.
He was recognised as a very versatile and talented runner who could run a variety of distances, and even hurdle and long jump., One track coach, Manhattan's George Eastment, described him as the "greatest runner I ever saw"., another, Carl Olson, felt he could break the four-minute mile. During his career he had a particular rivalry with his fellow countryman and middle-distance runner, Tom Courtney, the two swapping victories and being involved in many memorable duels. One duel was the 1956 Olympic trials where Courtney held off Sowell to finish 1st and 2nd with Courtney in the process breaking Sowell's USA record (of 1:46.7) that he had achieved at that year's NCAA meet.
In the Olympic final itself Sowell led from the back straight of the first lap right up to the final turn of the final lap where he was passed by Courtney. As they entered the final straight, Coutney now ahead had his own battle with Derek Johnson who had also passed Sowell, but Sowell now had to contend with the challenge of Audun Boysen. Courtney was to win his battle with Johnson and finish first, but Sowell lost his and finished fourth.
Sowell was an excellent runner indoors as well as outdoors, winning 4 NCAA titles and establishing a world record 1:50.3 for 880 yards.
In 1956, Sowell was a member of teams that set world records in the 4 x 440y and 4 x 880y relays.
The son of a Pittsburgh city-council maintenance man, and a 1953 graduate of Schenley High School, Arnie Sowell attended the University of Pittsburgh where he was a successful member of the Pitt Panthers track and field team. Whilst at Pitt, Sowell ran successfully for his college, winning the 1954 and 1956 880 yards NCAA titles. In 2007, Sowell was one of the guests of honour at a celebration of fellow Olympian and Pitt alumnus Herb Douglas on his 85th birthday at a celebration at the Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh.
After leaving college in 1957 with a business degree, Sowell embarked on a career in the military, finally retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1980. Also after graduation, Sowell married a fellow Pitt graduate of that year, Barbara Peace, who had studied arts and sciences. Sowells admittance in 1957 to the Fort Benning U.S. Army Training School as a second lieutenant was viewed as newsworthy at the time. Sowell continued his running career into 1959 as a representative of the US Army, where he competed on the pentathlon team.
Sowell was a prize-winning athlete during his time at Pitt, winning the annual 'Charles C. Hartwig' award in 1956 Sowell has never been forgotten as a famous alumnus of Pitt and as a distinguished member of the African-American community. For this he has received accolades from the African American Alumni Council (AAAC) and the 1996 Award of Distinction by the Varsity Letter Club.
After the military, Sowell worked as a procurement director for the Charlotte (North Carolina) Housing Authority.
|Year||World rank||US rank|
Sowell was a very successful competitor at 800 metres/880 yards at the USA National Track and Field Championships between 1955 and 1958.:
|1955 - 880y||1st|
|1956 - 800m||1st|
|1957 - 880y||2nd|
|1958 - 880y||5th|
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