Utah History to Go
Alma Wilford Richards

Florence Ellinwood Allen | Fortunato Anselmo | Edwina Booth | Reva Beck Bosone | John Eugene Broaddus | Arthur L. Chaffin | Edward Wilbur Clyde | Harold Drake, Sr. | Lantie Jesse Eldred | Anne Marie Fox Felt | John Dennis Fitzgerald | Harvey Fletcher | Russell G. Frazier | Lavina Christensen Fugal | Nettie Grimes Gregory | Otto Abels Harbach | Charles Warner Lockerbie | Russell Lowell Maughan | William Henry McDougall | Phyllis McGinley | Harvey Natchees | Katherine Fenton Nutter | Ivy Baker Priest | Ada Williams Quinn | Alma Wilford Richards | Harold Wallace Ross | Maria L. Salazar y Trujillo | Arthur William Sampson | Mattie Clark Sanford | Virginia Tanner | Kuniko Muramatsu Terasawa | Leora Thatcher | George Von Elm | Ruey Hazlet Wiesley

A track star from Parowan became Utah's first Olympic champion.

On July 8, 1912, in Stockholm, Sweden, Utah recorded a great moment in its sports history. That's when Alma Richards sailed over a bar 6'4" high to win first place in the running high jump at the fifth modern Olympic games.

Richards was a student at Brigham Young High School when he went to Chicago to try out for and, though virtually unknown, make the U.S. Olympic team. Some athletes trained on the ship that took them to Europe, but Richards felt that his event was not suited to shipboard practice so he just relaxed. He began intensive training in Antwerp, where the team had a layover, and continued to train until his event was called.

During the competition, as the bar was moved higher, Richards required the full three attempts allowed to clear 6'1", 6'2", and 6'3". When the bar was moved up to 6'4", he later told an audience in Provo, he felt discouraged and chilled. But, he continued, "Then I thought of the B.Y.U., Utah and my friends there, and the old United States and made the spurt—and chill and all went over the bar in the first attempt."

Richards excelled at many track and field events?including the broad jump, pole vault, shot put, discus, and the 100 and 400 meter races?and competed until 1932. During his career he set 55 records. Besides his Olympic feat, other major achievements included decathlon champion at the National AAU meet in San Francisco in 1915 and high point honors at the Inter-Allied World Games in Paris in 1919.

Born in Parowan, Utah, on February 20, 1890, to Morgan and Margaret Adams Richards, Alma Richards attended Murdock Academy and BYU, graduated from Cornell University, and received a law degree from the University of Southern California. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War I. Although admitted to the California Bar, he elected to teach school rather than practice law. He died in Long Beach, California, on April 3, 1963, survived by his wife, Lenore Griffin, a son, and three daughters.

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