100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Jim Bausch, decathlon

1932 Summer Olympics
Posted at 8:00 AM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 09:01:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — James “Jarrin’ Jim” Bausch grew up in the Wichita area and went on to become a three-sport athlete at the University of Kansas and an Olympic champion.

Bausch, who spent one year at Wichita State before transferring to KU, was an all-conference halfback for the Jayhawks in 1929 and 1930, helping KU claim its first Big Six football championship in 1930.

After his football career ended amid a recruiting scandal, Bausch became the first Kansas player to play in the East-West Shrine Game and played one season for the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds in 1933.

Bausch also played for the 1929-30 Jayhawks men’s basketball team, which finished 14-4 and placed second in the Big Six.

But Bausch’s athleticism shined the most in track and field, including a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and Big Six titles in the shot put, javelin and pole vault.

Bausch set a world record with 8,462.235 points in a stunning 170-point victory by dominating the throwing events.

He won the shot put by nearly one meter (50 feet-3 inches) and also posted the top marks in the discus (146-3) and javelin (203-3), while tying for the best pole vault (13-2).

1932 Summer Olympics
This is an Aug. 7, 1932, photo of the winners in the decathlon event of the Olympics after the event in Los Angeles. (From left to right) are silver medalist Akilles Jarvinen of Finland, gold medalist James Bausch of the U.S., and bronze medalist Wolrad Eberle of Germany.

All four marks broke or tied the Olympic decathlon record, giving Bausch a claim as the greatest all-around athlete in Kansas history and earning him the AAU’s Sullivan Award in 1932 as the top amateur athlete in the U.S.

Bausch also won AAU championships in the pentathlon in 1931 and decathlon in 1932.

While serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he contracted osteomyelitis, a painful bone infection.

Bausch, a two-time All-American with KU, was a charter member of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954. He was later inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame (1979), the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame (2004) and the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame.

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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