Inducted: November, 2005
Born: August 1, 1931 - Somerville, Massachusetts
Hammer Throw - 71.26 m
In 1956, Connolly won the gold medal in the hammer throw at the Melbourne Olympics and represented the U.S. in three subsequent Olympics, finishing 8th in 1960, 6th in 1964, and failing to qualify for the final in 1968. One of the greatest hammer throwers in track and field history, Harold Connolly, the 1956 Olympic champion, also broke the American record twelve times and world record seven times during his career, helping to place the U.S. in the forefront of an event that for the previous 32 years had not been one of the nation's best. A graduate of Boston College, Connolly won 12 national titles, including nine in the hammer outdoors and three indoors with the 35-pound weight throw. While at Boston College, Connolly took up the event to strengthen his 3 inches shorter left arm, which was severely injured at birth and weakened from injuries in football and wrestling. By 1955, he became the first American to surpass 200 feet, throwing 201' 5". That was just the beginning of his record-setting exploits. He gained his first world record with a throw of 224' 10", shortly before the 1956 Olympics. Wearing ballet shoes to improve his footing in the concrete ring, he beat long-time world record holder Mikhail Krivonosov to win the gold medal. In 1956 Connolly grabbed world attention when he met Olga Fikatova, the 1956 Olympic women's discus champion from Czechoslovakia. A romance developed and they were married in February 1957. They divorced in 1975, but a son by that marriage, Jim, later became an NCAA decathlon champion at UCLA. Connolly subsequently married the former Pat Winslow, a three-time Olympian in the 800 meters and pentathlon. Their youngest son, Adam, carried on his father's tradition, ranking third among U.S. hammer throwers in 1999. After retiring from competition, Hal Connolly became a schoolteacher, manager of Special Olympics International, and publisher of a web site to promote his event, hammerthrow.org.
Co-creator World’s Strongest Man TV show, 1976 – 1981 and 1997
Administrator for Special Olympics
Publisher of hammerthrow.com