100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Dick Cochran, discus

Dick Cochran.jpg
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 09:00:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dick Cochran, a native of Brookfield, Missouri, emerged as one of the best discus throwers in the U.S. during the late 1950s.

He won an NCAA championship for the University of Missouri, placed second at the Pan American Games and claimed third at the AAU national meet in 1959.

One year later, Cochran repeated as NCAA champion in the discus and went on the finish third at the 1960 Rome Olympics behind fellow U.S. competitors Al Oerter, a four-time Olympic champion from the University of Kansas, and silver medalist Rink Babka.

Cochran’s bronze medal to clinch a U.S. sweep remains the last time any country swept all three podium positions in the event.

His best throw was more than 1.3 meters better than the fourth-place finisher.

Cochran, a Brookfield native who turns 83 on Wednesday, achieved a rare grand slam in 1959 by winning the Texas, Kansas and Drake Relays in addition to the NCAA championship and also won Big Eight discus titles in 1959 and 1960 with the Tigers.

After retiring from competition, Cochran became a teacher and coach, spending some time at Ruskin High School in Kansas City, Missouri, and Lindenwood University after relocating to St. Louis.

He continued to be a dominant force in the discus into his 70s in the senior ranks, earning All-American honors in eight of nine years from 2001-09.

Cochran was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Brookfield R3 School Board named the district’s track and field facilities Cochran Field.

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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