100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Ivan Riley, track and field

Ivan Riley.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 09:00:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas State’s first Olympic medalist, Ivan Riley, was born in Newton, Kansas, in 1900.

He was an NCAA champion in the 120-yard hurdles for the Wildcats as a senior in 1923, setting the collegiate record along the way.

Riley also was an All-American in the 220-yard dash, finishing third, and 220-yard hurdles, finishing sixth.

He won the AAU national title in the 440-yard hurdles later that year and, a few months before the 1924 Paris Olympics, added an AAU national championship in the 120-yard hurdles.

In May 1924, Riley set a world record in the 400-meter hurdles, but it went unrecognized officially because he knocked over a hurdle.

During the Olympics, Riley won his heat and semifinal races in the 400 hurdles en route to the 1924 Olympic final, initially placing fourth in the six-man race.

Fellow U.S. hurdler Charley Brookins, who had crossed the line second, was disqualified for running out of his lane, so Riley was awarded third place and the bronze medal.

Four years later, Riley served as an assistant coach and business manager for the U.S. Olympic team during the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, according to his K-State Athletics Hall of Fame bio. He was inducted in 2006.

After settling in San Antonio, Riley became a noted architect. He even was awarded first prize at the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago for one of his building designs.

Two months shy of his 43rd birthday, Riley died from brain cancer.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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