Malvin ("Mal") Greston Whitfield (born October 11, 1924) is a former American athlete, a double winner of 800 m at the Olympic Games. Mal Whitfield is the father of CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield and of Ed Wright (Full Name: Edward Malvin Whitfield Wright), an All-America High Jumper for the University of California, Berkeley.
Born in Bay City, Texas, Mal Whitfield, or Marvelous Mal as he was called, joined the United States Army Air Force in 1943. After World War II, he remained in the air force but also enrolled at the Ohio State University. In the early 1950s he also served in the air force during the Korean War.
He won the NCAA title while at Ohio State in the 800 m in 1948 and in 1949. After leaving the university he won the AAU title from 1949 to 1951 at 800 m, in 1953 and 1954 at and in 1952 at 400 m. He also won the 800 m at the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Whitfield's most notable achievements, however, may have been as an Olympic athlete. At the 1948 Olympics in London, Whitfield won the 800 m and was a member of the winning 4 × 400 m relay team. He also earned a bronze medal in the 400 m. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, he repeated his 800 m victory. He also earned a silver medal as a member of U.S 4 × 400 m relay team. He set a world record in of 1:49.2 in 1950 and dropped it to 1:48.6 in 1952.
In 1954 Whitfield won the James E. Sullivan Award, given annually by the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU) to the outstanding amateur athlete in the country. He was the first black athlete to win the award. Whitfield narrowly missed making the 1956 Olympic team while a student at California State University, Los Angeles and he retired from track competition shortly thereafter. After graduating he worked for the U.S. State Department, conducting sports clinics in Africa.
In his 47 years in Africa, Whitfield trained and gave consultation to dozens of athletes who represented their countries as Olympians and All-Africa Games champions. Whitfield also arranged sports scholarships for over 5,000 African athletes to study in the United States.
During his career as a diplomat extraordinaire, he traveled to over 132 countries and played a key role in training and developing African athletes. The late U.S. President Ronald Reagan wrote of him: "Whether flying combat missions over Korea, or winning gold medal after gold medal at the Olympics, or serving as an ambassador of goodwill among the young athletes of Africa, you have given your all. This country is proud of you, and grateful to you." Shortly after his retirement from government service in 1989, "Marvelous Mal" was invited to the Oval Office, where President George H.W. Bush recognized his exemplary service to the nation and the world.
Olympic track star Mal Whitfield and golfer Renee Powell combined to sponsor the Nairobi Golf Safari and Tournament next year (April 25-May 7) in Kenya.(National Headliners)(Brief Article)
Nov 07, 2005; Olympic track star Mal Whitfield and golfer Renee Powell combined to sponsor the Nairobi Golf Safari and Tournament next year...
Like father, like daughter: Olympic track great Mal Whitfield takes great pride in his daughter, Fredericka, who currently works as a CNN news anchor based in Atlanta.(Confidential)(Brief Article)
Aug 08, 2005; Like father, like daughter: Olympic track great Mal Whitfield takes great pride in his daughter, Fredericka, who currently works...