Bob Richards - Bio

Athletic Accomplishments: 

  • Member of Three Olympic Teams (1948, 1952, 1956) Winner of two Olympic Gold Medals in the Pole-vault in 1952 and 1956. Winner of an Olympic Bronze Medal in 1948. Only Pole-vaulter in Olympic history to win twice. Made the Olympic Decathalon team, a feat that has not been repeated by any other Pole-vaulter. 
  • Member of 100 Golden Olympians Team (1996) Nominated as one of the 100 greatest Olympic athletes of all-time during the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Spokesperson for Wheaties/ General Mills (1958 - 1972) First athlete to appear on the front of the box. Over fourteen Years experience as the national television spokesperson for Wheaties, making him the longest presenter ever.
  • National Indoor/ Outdoor Champion 27 Times (1948-1955) Won Indoor Pole-vault Championships 13 times. Won Outdoor Pole-vault Championships 11 times. Won the All-Around Championship in 1951 and set a new world record. Won the National Decathlon Championship 3 times (1951, 1954, and 1955).
  • Physical Fitness Leader/ Bob Richards Fitness Crusade (1970) Bicycled over 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York to stimulate national interest in Physical Fitness.
  • World Masters Track & Field Champion (1983-91) Won a Gold Medal in the Pole-vault in 1983, 1985 and 1991. Broke the Weight Pentathlon World Record in 1983 by 500 points and again in 1986. He is the 1985 Masters Track and Field World Champion in the Pole-vault, High Jump, Pentathlon and Shot-put. Set three new American Records in the Masters National Championships in the Pole-vault, Hammer-throw and Discus in 1991.

Halls of Fame and Other Honors:

  • United States Olympic Hall of Fame Inductee (1983) One of twenty charter members chosen by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
  • United States Track & Field Hall of Fame Inductee (1970) Charter member.
  • National Track & Field Hall of Fame Inductee (1970)
  • Helms Hall of Fame Inductee (1964) Inducted as a member of the "All-Time Track Team".
  • Helms World Trophy Winner (1951) Voted the Outstanding Athlete in America by the Helms Athletic Foundation.
  • Illinois Hall of Fame Inductee (1964) Youngest member ever inducted into the original Hall of Fame.
  • Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame Inductee (1963)
  • New York Sports Museum Hall of Fame Inductee (1990)
  • Sport Magazine/ Los Angeles Times Awards (1951) Named Top Track & Field Athlete in America by both publications.
  • Sullivan Award (1951) Voted the Outstanding Amateur Athlete in America by a tribunal of over 1200 sportswriters. Reasons given for winning the Sullivan Award: Indoor and Outdoor Champion in the Pole-vault, National Decathlon winner and All-Around Champion, winner of four national championships in one year, a near world record holder in the Decathlon, and world record holder in All-Around Championships.
  • Track & Field All American Eleven Years in a Row (1947-57)
  • Olympic Torch Bearer Atlanta Games (1996)
  • Lincoln Laureate (1999) Awarded by the Governor of Illinois on behalf of the state and the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Other notables who have received the award include Ernest Hemingway, President Reagan, General Westmoreland, and Scott Turow.
  • The National Fitness Hall of Fame (March 2009) Induction Chicago, Illinois.

Civic and National Recognition:

  • Goodwill Ambassador to Asia (1954) Named as Goodwill Ambassador to Asia by the U.S. State Department. Toured India, Burma, Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea delivering speeches on sports and patriotism.
  • Junior Champ Program Creator (1964) Originated and conceived the basic ideas for The Junior Champ Program- a program in cooperation with the U.S. Jr. Chamber of Commerce, which now has participation of over four million youngsters, many of which have gone on to star in national championships.
  • Member of the Advisory Conference on Physical Fitness and Sports (1972)
  • Named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America (1957)
  • Named one of the Five Outstanding Young Men in America (1957)
  • President’s Council for Youth Fitness Member (1956) Appointed by President Eisenhower and continues as a member of the Advisory Conference.
  • Presidential Representative (1972) Represented President Nixon at the Olympic Games in Munich.

Lecture Experience:

  • Commander of Motivational Speaking Has delivered over twelve thousand speeches over the last 50 years, appeared in more communities speaking than any other speaker in the United States, has motivated many of the top corporate sales forces in the U.S., has spoken to over seven million High school students, and has received thousands of letters from people who stipulated that his addresses changed their lives and inspired them to achieve. Rated as one of the top four motivational speakers in the country.
  • CPAE Award Recipient (1981) Highest honor awarded by the National Speakers Association.
  • Golden Gavel Award Recipient (1979) Highest award given by Toastmasters International.
  • Presenter of Awards and Master of Ceremonies Presided over the most prestigious events, including the annual Jesse Owens Awards Banquet.
  • Salesmasters of America Presenter Voted by Salesmasters as the #1 speaker ever to appear two years running. Appeared to over fifty groups of Salesmasters of America, an organization devoted to recognizing the top salespeople in America.
  • Speakers Hall of Fame Inductee (1983) Highest award given by SME International.

Publishing Experience:

  • Best-Selling Author Penned The Heart of a Champion (Fleming Revell Co.) which became a national bestseller and was used as a "Bible" by many athletes and coaches throughout America.

Broadcast and Cinematic Experience: 

  • National Television Spokesman for Wheaties for Fourteen Years
  • Broadcaster/ Sports Announcer (1960-76) Reported for NBC-TV, CBS-TV, and ABC-TV on the various champions of the Olympic Games in Rome, Innsbruck, Tokyo and Montreal. Recorded 100 five minute radio shows for NBC and CBS about the motivational and inspirational figures of sport, which reached 20 million listeners.
  • Featured on America’s Greatest Olympians (TNT-1996)
  • Featured on Discover Magazine (1991)
  • Featured on Fathers, Sons, and Daughters (NBC-TV-1985) Featured on this Father’s Day Special which included Bob with son Brandon Richards, who held the High School Pole-vault World Record at 18’2".
  • Featured on Jock Spots (NBC-TV-1991)
  • Featured on Olympic Moments (NBC-TV-1992)
  • Featured on Showcase (VISN-CABLE TV-1992)
  • Featured in The Spirit of the Games (HBO-1996)
  • Featured on This is Your Life with Ralph Edwards (1956)
  • Film Director and Producer (1957-70) Filmed and produced the first Russia - U.S.A. Dual Track Meet, viewed by 100 million people. Produced and narrated several instructional sports films for television and High School distribution. Presenter of a 30-minute documentary filmed internationally for the Food Industry. Produced a feature film, doubling as Director and Actor. Narrated the film The Sounds of Freedom for national TV.
  • National Television Commercial Feature (1992) Featured in the McDonald’s commercial "Olympic Salute".
  • National Television Professional (1957-96) Has appeared on live national television shows including Good Morning America, Our World, The Tomorrow Show, The Today Show, and CBS This Morning.
  • Subject of the Dupont Theater Life Story Leap for Heaven (1956)


1947-48 University of Illinois
Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degrees.

1949 University of Illinois
Fellowship in Philosophy and Instructor of Sociology. Worked towards a doctorate degree for two years.

1950 Bethany Seminary
Instructor of Philosophy of Religion

1950 Laverne College
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Logic, Psychology, and Church History.

1972 Northwood Institute
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities

1979 Johnson & Wales College, Providence Rhode Island
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration

1981 Bridgewater College, Virginia
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service