RGV Hall of Famer Morrow remembered

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2006, file photo, Bobby Joe Morrow, left, is honored with an Olympic portrait of himself during the inauguration of the Bobby Morrow Stadium in San Benito, Texas, at halftime of a football game. Morrow, the Texas sprinter who won three gold medals in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics while a student at Abilene Christian University, died Saturday, May 30, 2020. He was 84. (Lynn Hermosa/Valley Morning Star via AP, File)

LYFORD — Olympic gold medalist and former San Benito Greyhounds athlete Bobby Joe Morrow died of natural causes Saturday at the age of 84.

Morrow won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 400-meter relay, setting world records in the 200 and the sprint relay. He was the first American runner to win those three races in one Olympics since Jesse Owens did so in 1936.

Following his legendary performance at the Summer Games, Morrow was named the 1956 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

Morrow was born on October 15, 1935 in Harlingen. He graduated from San Benito High School in 1954, where he played football and won three state track & field titles. Morrow went on to run for Abilene Christian University, where he won 14 championships and 80 of his 88 individual races. He retired in 1958 but did return to track in 1960 to compete for a spot on the United States Olympic team, but he did not qualify.

San Benito CISD named Bobby Morrow Stadium after the Greyhounds legend in 2006. He’s a member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 1989, and a 2016 inductee into the Texas Track & Field Hall of Fame. Morrow was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.

“Bobby Morrow (was) a giant in track & field. As a senior in high school, he won 17 consecutive 100- and 220-yard races, culminating in state titles in both. He will forever be remembered among the great American sprinters of all time. Our condolences to his family and friends,” said Stuart Kantor, executive director of the Texas Track and Field Coaches Association via email.

The RGV Sports Hall of Fame did a tribute to Morrow at its 2006 induction ceremony in Brownsville for the 50th anniversary of his historic Olympic Games, with Morrow in attendance.

Arrangements for Morrow’s funeral, which will be open to the public, are being finalized.

“We have lost a great Christian, family man, Olympic gold medalist and Greyhound today,” said San Benito athletic director and football coach Dan Gomez. “Bobby Morrow laid out the map for our Rio Grande Valley kids to push forward with their goals and dreams of accomplishing big things. Our educational family, athletes and community send our deepest heartfelt condolences to his family.”