In 1940 Henry Norwood “Barney” Ewell, Penn State’s “Ebony Sprint Ace,” set a world record in the 50-yard dash with a time of 5.0 seconds. In 1942 he broke the world record in the 200-yard dash with a time of 18.9 seconds. Ewell went on to win a gold medal in the 400-meter relay and silver medals in the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash at the 1948 London Olympics—at the age of 30. Track & Field News voted him one of the top ten sprinters of all time.
His three Olympic medals are still the most by a Penn State alumnus. Lou Prato, Penn State sports historian, contends that “Barney would have been as well known an Olympian as Jesse Owens if two Olympics games (1940 & 1944) had not been canceled due to World War II, when Barney was in his prime.” Ewell, a Penn State legend in his time, also took home four NCAA Gold Medals. Track & Field News later voted him one of the top ten sprinters of all time.