Dave Wottle's dramatic finish in the 1972 Munich Olympics was one of the closest finishes in Olympic history and earned him a Gold Medal in the 800 meter run. Yet most people will remember Dave more for the tattered golf cap he wore during the race than the race itself. As a result of Dave’s performance in Munich, he was awarded the prestigious U.S. Olympic Spirit Award, given to the athlete who demonstrates the special spirit of Olympism, courage and achievement at the Olympic Games. Dave and his roommate in Munich, Frank Shorter, are the last two American men to win Olympic gold medals in a distance event on the track.
During his track and cross country career at Bowling Green State University, Dave earned All-American honors eight times, was a 7-time national champion, and broke the four minute mile 18 times. In the 1972 Olympic Trials, Dave qualified for the Olympic Games in both the 800 meters and in the 1500 meters. His performance in the 800 meters was especially memorable as he tied the world record with a time of 1 minute, 44.3 seconds. The following year he became the third fastest miler of all time by running a 3 minute, 53.3 second mile.
While in college, Dave Wottle was inducted into the national leadership honorary Omicron Delta Kappa, was an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholar and, in 1973, was runner-up to Bill Walton for the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award. He was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1980.
Dave Wottle’s inspirational talk, The Winning Attitude, begins with a showing of the 1972 Olympic 800 meter final and stresses the importance of hard work, goal setting, concentration, confidence, and a competitive spirit in the life of a successful person.
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