Abilene Christian has produced world-record holders, more than 20 Olympians, several hundred All-Americans and two Olympic gold medalists. ACU was even named the Texas Sports Dynasty of the 20th Century by Texas Monthly magazine.
But one moment on Nov. 24, 1956, put Abilene Christian on the map, a moment judged the school’s greatest in sports.
On that day in Melbourne, Australia, ACU sophomore sprinter Bobby Morrow earned the title “World’s Fastest Man” by winning the Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters with a time of 10.5 seconds. He also won gold at the Melbourne Games in the 200 meters (20.6 seconds) and 400 relay, anchoring the U.S. team that set a world record with a time of 39.5 seconds.
A flow of accolades followed.
Morrow was named Sports Illustrated’s 1956 Sportsman of the Year over New York Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle, World Series hero Don Larsen, Notre Dame halfback Paul Hornung and NFL MVP Frank Gifford of the New York Giants.
Morrow appeared on the popular Ed Sullivan Show and won the Sullivan Award, presented to the nation’s top amateur athlete. In Abilene, there was a parade followed by a banquet with food served on a table made of gold.
“It was the first major event we’d ever had, and we went all out,” Robert D. Hunter, who was then Abilene Christian’s director of special events, told Texas Monthly in 1984. “It was the first visit ever by the major networks. He put the name of the college on the map around the globe.”