Eugene Venzke is an Olympian in track and field, a three-time indoor national champion, a former world record holder in the 1500m and the indoor mile and a 1983 NYAC Hall of Fame inductee.
Eugene Venzke was born on June 27th, 1908 in Leaf Valley, MN. Venzke and his family moved to Little Oley, PA, and he later attended the University of Pennsylvania.
In the 1930s, Venzke was one of the country’s best middle distance runners, along with Glenn Cunningham and Bill Bonthron. The three men quickly became rivals, often breaking each other’s records from race to race.
At the 1932 Millrose Games Venzke won the Wanamaker mile and set a new world record with a time of 4:11.2. He broke that record eleven days later, running the Baxter Mile in 4:10. Later that same year, he broke yet another world record, this time in the 1500m, which he ran in 3:53.4.
Despite his remarkable year, Venzke failed to qualify for the 1932 Olympic Games, due to a persistent hip injury hampered him during the trials. Venzke finished in fourth place, only one away from qualifying for the Los Angeles Games. He felt that he could have won gold that year, if not for his injury.
Throughout his career, Venzke won three indoor track and field national championships in the 1500m: in 1932, 1933 and finally in 1936, the same year he qualified for the Olympic Games in Berlin. In those Games, he finished in ninth place overall.
Eugene Venzke died on February 14th, 1992 at the age of 83.