Harry L. Hillman is a three-time Olympic Champion in track and field (1904, St. Louis) and a 1984 NYAC Hall of Fame inductee.
Hillman was born on September 8th, 1881 in Brooklyn, New York. Hillman had competed for the Knickerbocker Athletic Club, an early rival of the NYAC, before joining the Club prior to the 1904 Olympic Games in St Louis. At the first Olympic Games on American soil, Hillman solidified his legacy as one of the greatest athletes in American history.
In St Louis, Hillman won the gold medal in the 400m (:49.2), the 200m hurdles (:24.6) and the 400m hurdles (:53). Remarkably, all three were Olympic records. However, Hillman’s time in the 400m hurdles is controversial; despite beating the previous record by four seconds, Hillman knocked over one of the hurdles, which were 2’ 6” instead of 3’.
Having dominated in 1904, Hillman was a heavy favorite leading up to the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens. However, in an unusual twist of fate, Hillman was injured on the voyage to Greece; a massive wave washed over the deck of the ship, injuring Hillman and five others. Hillman was still finished in fifth place in the 400m, but he was unable to replicate his success from 1904.
At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, Hillman added a silver medal in the 400m hurdles, losing out to fellow NYAC member Charles Bacon.
In addition to his success at the Olympics, Hillman also held a world record: the 100 yards three legged race, which he set with Lawson Robertson in 1909.
Hillman became coach of the Dartmouth University track and field team in 1910. Under his guidance, Canadian hurdler Earl Thompson won the gold medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1920 Olympic Games.
Hillman died on August 9th, 1945 at the age of 63.