Calvin Davis at the 1996 Olympic Games (© Allsport / Getty Images)
World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Olympic and world medallist Calvin Davis died on Monday (1) at the age of 51.
While Davis’s greatest Olympic success came in the 400m hurdles, an event in which he won bronze at the 1996 Games in Atlanta during his debut season in the discipline, the US athlete started out in the 400m flat and his early achievements included claiming two NCAA 400m titles for the University of Arkansas. He went on to form part of USA’s gold medal-winning 4x400m team at the 1995 World Indoor Championships in Barcelona.
Davis was born on 2 April 1972 in Eutaw, Alabama, and he attended Dorchester High School, where he excelled both on the track and playing American football. He then went to Wallace State Community College before transferring to the University of Arkansas.
Running for the University of Arkansas, Davis won the NCAA 400m title outdoors in 1993, clocking 45.04 in New Orleans – a time that would remain his personal best. The following year he also captured the NCAA indoor 400m crown, running 46.18 in Indianapolis.
Davis won his third NCAA title as part of Arkansas’ distance medley relay squad, when he ran the 400m leg and teamed up with Niall Bruton, Brian Baker and Graham Hood to clock 9:30.07 in 1994.
Further relay success was to follow on the world stage. In 1995, Davis combined with Rod Tolbert, Tod Long and Frankie Atwater to win the 4x400m at the World Indoor Championships in Spain, where he also finished sixth in the individual 400m.
Davis made his 400m hurdles debut the following year and it didn’t take long for him to make his mark. In just his seventh ever race in the discipline, he finished third at the US Championships, also held in Atlanta, clocking a PB of 48.32 to secure his place on the team for the Olympic Games the following month. Once there, he won his heat and semifinal, recording a personal best of 47.91.
He then returned to run 47.96 in the final, finishing strong to claim bronze behind his teammate Derrick Adkins and Zambia’s Samuel Matete.
Davis went on to compete at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton and moved into coaching, sharing his experience with the next generation.