KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tom Poor won the high jump at the inaugural Kansas Relays, won a national championship at the University of Kansas and finished fourth at the 1924 Olympics.
Born in Bismarck in southeast Missouri, he competed for the Jayhawks track and field team from 1922-25, winning the national high jump title as a sophomore at the 1923 NCAA championships by two inches (6 feet, 1 inch).
It was the program’s first individual national title and “helped lay the groundwork for a strong KU track tradition,” according to Poor’s Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame bio.
Poor — known as the “Kansas Grasshopper” — didn’t get a chance to defend his title in 1924, because there were no NCAA championships that year, but he did compete at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
He cleared 1.88 meters, or roughly 6 feet-2 inches, in the Olympic final, placing fourth after a jump-off with Hungary’s Jenő Gáspár and narrowly missing a medal.
Returning to KU, Poor finished fourth at the 1925 NCAA championships and finished off a high jump three-peat during the first three KU Relays, which were established in 1923.
In a span of four weeks his senior season, Poor won the high jump at the Texas, Kansas and Penn Relays.
Poor went into real estate before his death in 1965 in Grove, Oklahoma.
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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