Abel Kiviat


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Abel Kiviat
Born: June 23, 1892
Died: August 26, 1991

Abel Richard Kiviat was an American middle-distance runner. He was the oldest living American Olympic medalist at the time of his death. He was born June 23, 1892, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. His family soon moved to Staten Island. There he became New York City's all-star schoolboy shortstop in baseball and its half-mile and mile champion in track while at Curtis High School.

In 1915, the A.A.U. suspended Mr. Kiviat, saying he had requested exorbitant expense money for running in a meet in Troy, N.Y. Mr. Kiviat denied the charge and was reinstated in 1923. He ran for a few more years, but not at his previous level. Working in Press Box

Until age 71, he worked as a deputy clerk for the Southern District of the United States Federal Court in Manhattan. He also served as an unpaid press-box steward at Madison Square Garden track meets and at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. He eventually moved to a retirement community in Lakehurst.

At Curtis, he set three world records outdoors and six indoors, and won nine United States titles.

In 1911, at age 18, he won the 600-yard and 1,000-yard titles in the Amateur Athletic Union two-day national indoor championships. In 1913, he became the only runner ever to win both titles in one day.

In 1912, he lowered his world record for 1,500 meters to 3 minutes 55.8 seconds. After crossing the finish line, he kept running, hoping to break the world record for the mile of 4:15.4. He failed by a fifth of a second.

He won a silver medal in the 1912 Olympics. For two nights during those Olympics, Mr. Kiviat's roommate was Jim Thorpe, the American Indian who won the Olympic decathlon (10 events in two days) and pentathlon (five other events in one day).