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Cliff Bourland, oldest living gold medalist, dies at 97

This overhead view of the 200-meter dash finish

This overhead view of the 200-meter dash finish line shows how American Mel Patton (71) of Southern Calif., nosed out teammate H. Norwood "Barney" Ewell (70) of Lancaster, Pa., by a half-stride in the Summer Olympics, Aug. 3, 1948. Left to right are: Leslie Laing (50) of Jamaica, Cliff Bourland (91) of Los Angeles, Ewell, Lloyd LaBeach (57) of Panama, who finished third, Patton, and Herb McKenley (90) of Jamaica. Photo Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES — Olympic sprinter Cliff Bourland, America’s oldest living gold medalist, has died. He was 97.

He died Thursday of complications from pneumonia in Santa Monica, according to a statement released Friday by USC.

Bourland won gold at the 1948 London Games while running the second leg of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay. He also finished fifth in the 200 meters.

He won the NCAA 440-yard championship in 1942 and ’43 while attending Southern California. He was a three-time letterman, with the Trojans winning the NCAA team title each year under coach Dean Cromwell. Bourland was captain of the 1943 team, which had just four athletes at the NCAAs but still won the team title.

He was third in the 100 and second in the 220 in 1941, and finished third in the 220 the next two years. The 46 total points Bourland scored at the NCAAs set a school record and currently is fourth-most ever.

At the AAU championships, he won the 400 in 1942 and ’43 and was second in the 200 both years. He ran a leg on a 1,600 relay at the 1941 AAUs that broke the world record despite finishing second.

Bourland was the Los Angeles city 440 champion in 1938 while attending Venice High.

He was a captain in the Navy during World War II. After his sprinting career, he worked in the shoe, insurance and mortgage banking industries.

Bourland is survived by his wife Caroline Jane, his sons Cliff Jr. and Alexander, his daughter Rhonda Jane Groves, a grandson and two great-grandchildren.

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