The University boasts many alumni Olympic athletes who once trained and competed on the Bluff. Proud Pilots instantly recall our recent University soccer stars returning as Olympic medalists in 2008, 2012 for the USA and Canada teams. But the honorable title of First University Olympian reaches back to the very, very, very early years of the University when we had barely three buildings on campus and were still called Columbia University. Student-athlete Daniel Kelly attended Columbia University for just one year, 1904-1905. And Daniel Kelly excelled in track and field.
At a 1905 Columbia University indoor track and field meet held inside the Columbia Colosseum (a sports’ facility here on-campus, 1903-1929; replaced by Howard Hall, but back then spilling across Shipstad quad), Mr. Kelly set a new world record for long jump by shattering the previous world record of 21 feet, 10 inches with a jump of 22 feet, 1 1/4 inches.
Daniel Kelly went on to the University of Oregon from the Bluff. In 1908 Kelly represented the United States at the Summer Olympic Games held that year London, winning a silver medal for Team USA in Long Jump, his best competition jump covering a distance of 7.09 metres (23 feet, 3 1/4 inches).
The Long Jump event is one of the original Olympic Track and Field sports (from 1896). The Women’s Long Jump was added in 1948.