Mr. Mike Larrabee (Math Teacher)Mike Larrabee winning the 400m gold at the 1964 Olympics (Track and Field Magazine of Japan)
1933 - 2004
Tokyo champion Larrabee dies at 69
Wednesday 23 April 2003
Santa Barbara, California, USA - Mike Larrabee, who won the Olympic 400m gold medal in Tokyo in 1964, has died at his home in Santa Maria. He was 69.
Larrabee (born 2 December 1933) died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday (22 April), confirmed his daughter Tracy Larrabee of Santa Cruz.
After emerging as a young talent in the mid 1950s, Larrabee’s career was hampered by injury, until he adopted a new weight training programme as he turned 30, which helped him to produce his best ever season in 1964.
At the US Olympic Trials meet in Los Angeles in the Memorial Coliseum on 12 September 1964, Larrabee powered away to equal the World 400m record of 44.9, winning ahead of Ulis Williams (45.0) and Ollan Cassell (45.6), to gain qualification for the Tokyo Olympics in the most dramatic fashion.
Along with Cassell and Williams, and anchor man Henry Carr, who was the Olympic 200m champion in Tokyo, Larrabee was also apart of another World record in 1964, when the USA team won the 4 x 400m Relay gold in Tokyo (21 October) in a time of 3:00.7.
Larrabee ran the second leg in that final (44.8), and while taking over the baton in second place, with a fine turn of speed established a five metre lead by the change over to Williams on the third leg.
Larrabee’s individual 400m victory two days earlier (19 October) in Tokyo was taken in wet conditions. He ran a very cautious first 300m, by which point he was still in fifth place. It was with only 10 metres to go to the finish line that Larrabee finally ran down Trinidad’s Wendell Mottley to take the Olympic title in 45.1 seconds, to Mottley’s 45.2.
An avid skier and mountaineer, Larrabee was diagnosed with cancer two years ago but remained active until recently.
“He always really loved athletics,” his daughter said. “Even after he got sick and got pancreatic cancer, his doctor was always amazed. Six weeks ago, he went skiing.”
In Ventura, where Larrabee attended high school, the school stadium was renamed in his honour in 1965. He competed at the University of Southern California and later for the Southern California Striders.
In 1968, Larrabee moved to Santa Maria, where he went into business as a regional distributor of beer and other beverages.
Larrabee also is survived by his wife of 47 years, Margaret; a daughter, Lisa Larrabee Duncan of Ojai; a son, Michael Denson Larrabee of Santa Maria, and three grandchildren. - Quoted from IAAP