track and field
A member of the United States race walking team at the 1956 Melbourne Games, Denman competed in the 50,000-meter walk. He finished in eleventh place with a time of 5 hours 12 minutes and 14 seconds, 41 minutes behind the gold medal winner.
Denman began his athletic career in 1948, at the age of 14, when he walked by a travel agent in Manhattan and saw photographs of London in preparation for the upcoming Olympics; Denman said he got "really fired up." Although he managed the track team at Taft High School in the Bronx, Elliot did not compete for the team. In fact, it was not until 1954, his sophomore year at New York University, that he decided to go out for the track team. Encouraged to try race walking by NYU's legendary coach, Emil Von Elling, Denman was also introduced to Henry Laskau, one of the greatest race-walkers in history.
By 1956, Denman had gotten his degree from NYU and decided to sign up for the Olympic Trials. He later said that he had "never even walked as far as 50k at the time of those trials...I was just hoping to finish, maybe make the top 10. But guys kept dropping out, and leaders kept falling back to the pack after going out too fast. I finished fourth...then my whole life changed in the shower room after the race. Jim Hewson had finished third, but he already had made the Olympic team in the 20k and preferred that race. He said to me, 'Hey, kid, you can have my place.' Words I'll never forget...It was like, 'Really, sir?' It was , 'Here I come! I'm on the Olympic team!"
In 1959, Denman won the 3,000-meter walk at the U.S. National AAU Championships with a time of 13:52.2. A reporter for two New Jersey newspapers for almost forty years (he retired in 1999), Denman has remained active as a race-walker since the 1950s. He participated in the New York City Marathon for twenty consecutive years and walked in the world master's championships held in Melbourne, Australia in 1987.
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Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)