Created: Feb 20, 2019 (7:05PM)
Don Bragg was a world-class athlete and an Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault whose colorful personality and larger-than-life presence made him a star not only in the realm of athletics but also as a storyteller, humanitarian, author and actor in addition to many other of his life's endeavors. The native of Penns Grove, N.J. and the 1957 graduate of Villanova passed away in Northern California on February 16 at the age of 83. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be announced at a later date.
Bragg was the world record holder in the pole vault with a mark of 4.80 meters (15'9.25") from July 2, 1960 until May 20, 1961. He set the record at the 1960 Olympic Trials in Stanford, Calif. and went on to win that year's Olympic gold medal in Rome. It was one of two gold medals that Bragg won while representing the United States in international competition, as he was previously the pole vault champion at the 1959 Pan-American Games in Chicago.
During his prolific career in pole vaulting, even while being one of the last stars of the sport to compete with a metal pole, Bragg was a six-time AAU champion and the 1955 outdoor NCAA champion in addition to winning six IC4A titles and being a four-time champion at the Penn Relays. He is an inductee to the USATF National Track & Field Hall of Fame (1996), the Villanova Varsity Club Hall of Fame (1980) and the Penn Relays Wall of Fame (1998).
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