Ralph Rose

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Ralph Rose

Ralph Rose
Medal record
Men’s athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1904 St. Louis Shot put
Gold medal – first place 1908 London Shot put
Gold medal – first place 1912 Stockholm Two handed shot put
Silver medal – second place 1904 St. Louis Discus throw
Silver medal – second place 1912 Stockholm Shot put
Bronze medal – third place 1904 St. Louis Hammer throw

Ralph Waldo Rose (March 17, 1885 – October 16, 1913) was an American track and field athlete. He was born in Healdsburg, California.[1]


Standing 6 ft 5.5 in (197 cm) and weighing 250 pounds (115 kg), Rose was the first shot putter to break 50 feet (15 m). His world record of 51 ft 0 in (15.5 m), set in 1909, lasted for 16 years. In 1904, while at the University of Michigan, he won both the shot put and discus at the Big Ten championships. He subsequently competed for the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California and won seven National AAU titles in the shot, discus, and javelin. A competitor in three Olympic Games, Rose compiled a medal total of three golds, two silver, and one bronze. At the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, he won the shot, was second in the discus, third in the hammer throw, and sixth in the 56-pound (25 kg) weight throw.

Four years later at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, he repeated as the shot put champion. At the opening ceremony Rose, the U.S. flag bearer, refused (supported by a majority of his mostly Irish-American teammates) to dip the flag towards the royal box, as athletes from other countries did. Fellow athlete Martin Sheridan supposedly explained Rose's action with the terse statement, "This flag dips to no earthly king." According to legend, this caused acrimony between the United States and Great Britain. Several decisions by British judges went against American athletes during the games, and U.S. spokesmen felt they stemmed from bias, caused in part by the flag incident. However, there is no reliable evidence that the British spectators objected to Rose's action, nor that Sheridan ever uttered his famous quote, which did not appear in print until 1952.[2]

At the 1908 Summer Olympics Rose competed in the tug of war but was not successful.

Pat McDonald, Lawrence Whitney, and Ralph Rose in 1912.

In the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden, he won the two-handed shot put (throwing a total of 27.70 m (90 ft 10.5 in) with his right and left hands), took second in the regular shot, ninth in the hammer and 11th in the discus.

At the age of 28 he died of typhoid fever, in San Francisco.[3]


  1. ^ "Ralph Rose". Olympedia. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  2. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2004). The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, Toronto: Sport Classic Books. ISBN 1-894963-34-2
  3. ^ "Athlete Rose Dead; Victim of Typhoid" (PDF). The New York Times. October 17, 1913. Retrieved 4 July 2013.

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by Flagbearer for  United States
London 1908
Succeeded by
Preceded by Men's Shot Put World Record Holder
August 21, 1909 – May 6, 1928
Succeeded by