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Wed, 09.29.1909

Eddie Tolan, Track and Field Athlete born

Eddie Tolan

Eddie Tolan was born on this date in 1909. He was a Black Track & Field sprinter.

Tolan was from Denver, Colo., and was that city and state champion in the 100- and 200-yard dashes. While attending high school in Detroit, he was often called The Midnight Express. At the University of Michigan, he attracted national attention in 1929 when he set a record in the 100-yard dash (9.5 seconds) and tied the record of 10.4 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

The 5 foot 7 inch Tolan, who raced with his glasses taped to his head, won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in the 200- and 220-yard dashes and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) championship in the 100- and 220-yard events between 1929 and 1931.

He finished second to Ralph Metcalfe in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the trials for the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.  In the games themselves, however, Tolan set an Olympic record by handily winning the 200-meter in 21.2 seconds, and he eked out a narrow photo-finish victory over Metcalfe in the 100-meter in 10.3 seconds, setting a world record.

Tolan briefly worked as a vaudeville performer with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and later became a schoolteacher. Edward Thomas Tolan was the first Black athlete to win two Olympic gold medals. In his track career, Tolan won 300 races, losing only 7. H Called "The Midnight Express", Tolan died on January 30, 1967, in Detroit, Michigan


USA Track & Field
One RCA Dome, Suite 140
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-261-0500 (phone)
317-261-0481 (fax)

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