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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Cunningham overcame odds
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

March 10, 1988

Glenn Cunningham, the greatest American miler of the thirties who learned to run after doctors said he might never walk again, dies at his farm in Menifee, Ark. He was 78.

In 1933, Cunningham, a master of the middle distances, was voted the Sullivan Award as the best amateur athlete in the country. The "Kansas Flyer" set a world record for the mile of 4:06.7 in 1934 in Princeton, N.J. Two years later, he won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters in the Berlin Olympics.

He won the Wanamaker Mile at New York's Millrose Games six times in the thirties. In 1979 he was named the best track performer in the history of Madison Square Garden, where he set six world records in the mile and 1,500 meters and another at 1,000 yards.

As a youngster, Cunningham had suffered life-threatening burns on both legs when a stove in a classroom in Everetts, Kan., exploded, killing his older brother Floyd. He spent seven months in bed, and then received daily massages from his mother, who kneaded his damaged muscles and sped his way to walking and then running.

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