Born in Almonesson Lake, New Jersey, Mel Sheppard, or "Peerless Mel" as he was nicknamed, was rejected by the New York Police because he had a weak heart. But this didn't stop him to win three AAU titles in 880 yd (805 m) from 1906 to 1908 and became a main favourite in middle distance at London Olympics.
Noted for being a frontrunner, Sheppard, at London, went through the first 400 metres in 53 seconds and on to win the 800 m in the world record time of 1.52.8. He also won a 1500 m with a world record of 4:03.4. He earned his third gold medal on the medley relay race.
After winning an AAU titles in 880 yd in 1911 and 1912, Sheppard was again a main favourite of Olympic 800 m champion title at the Stockholm Olympics. At Stockholm, he tried the same tactics as in London, but after an opening lap of 52.4, he was overtaken by teammate Ted Meredith who set a new world record of 1.51.9. Sheppard won his fourth gold medal as lead-off runner on the 4 x 400 m relay team that set a world record of 3:16.6.
After retireing from sports Sheppard became a lawyer (he was one of the defenders of the Lindbergh child kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann). For many years, he was also the recreation director of the Millrose A.A.
|Olympic medalists in athletics (men) | Olympic Champions in Men's 800 m|
Teddy Flack | Alfred Tysoe | Jim Lightbody | Paul Pilgrim | Mel Sheppard | Ted Meredith | Albert Hill | Douglas Lowe (twice) | Thomas Hampson | John Woodruff | Mal Whitfield (twice) | Tom Courtney | Peter Snell (twice) | Ralph Doubell | Dave Wottle | Alberto Juantorena | Steve Ovett | Joaquim Cruz | Paul Ereng | William Tanui | Vebjørn Rodal | Nils Schumann | Yuriy Borzakovskiy
|Olympic medalists in athletics (men) | Olympic Champions in Men's 1500 m|
Teddy Flack | Charles Bennett | Jim Lightbody (twice) | Mel Sheppard | Arnold Jackson | Albert Hill | Paavo Nurmi | Harry Larva | Luigi Beccali | Jack Lovelock | Henry Eriksson | Josy Barthel | Ron Delany | Herb Elliott | Peter Snell | Kip Keino | Pekka Vasala | John Walker | Sebastian Coe (twice) | Peter Rono | Fermín Cacho | Noureddine Morceli | Noah Ngeny | Hicham El Guerrouj