|ESPN Network: ESPN.com | NBA.com | NHL.com | WNBA.com | ABCSports | EXPN | INSIDER | FANTASY|
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Larrabee defied critics at 1964 Olympics
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Mike Larrabee, who defied critics by winning an Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter dash at the unlikely age of 31, died Tuesday at his Santa Maria home.
The 69-year-old Larrabee died of pancreatic cancer, said daughter Tracy Larrabee of Santa Cruz.
An avid skier and mountaineer, Larrabee was diagnosed two years ago but remained active until recently.
"He always really loved athletics,'' his daughter said. "Even after he got sick and got pancreatic cancer, his doctor was always amazed.
"Six weeks ago, he went skiing.''
Larrabee was a Los Angeles high school teacher when he traveled to Tokyo in 1964 and ran the greatest race of his life.
In sixth place with 200 meters to go in the Olympic final, he passed his competitors and hit the finish line in 45.1 seconds. The time was two-tenths of a second off the world record he had equaled in the U.S. Olympic trials.
"I kept a copy of one story written about me that said I was too old,'' Larrabee said at a news conference following his victory. "It's still on my wall. I think I'll take it down now.''
Larrabee won another gold medal in the 400 relay. He ran the second leg in 44.8 seconds, as the U.S. foursome set a world record of 3:00.7.
In Ventura, where Larrabee attended high school, the school stadium was renamed in his honor in 1965. He competed at USC and later for the Southern California Striders.
In 1968, Larrabee moved to Santa Maria, where he went into business as a regional distributor of beer and other beverages.
Larrabee also is survived by his wife of 47 years, Margaret; a daughter, Lisa Larrabee Duncan of Ojai; a son, Michael Denson Larrabee of Santa Maria, and three grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.