track and field
1900, 1904, 1906
Prinstein was one of the most successful Jewish athletes in Olympic history, winning five medals (four of them gold). At the 1900 Paris Olympics, Myer captured the gold in the triple jump (47'5 3/4") and took the silver in the long jump (23'6 1/2"). Controversy surrounded his silver medal at the 1900 Olympics, because Prinstein was instructed as a Syracuse University student not to compete in the finals on a Sunday. The eventual gold medalist jumped unchallenged six times on that final day. Prinstein won his gold in the triple jump the following day.
At the 1904 St. Louis Games, Prinstein won gold medals in the triple jump (47'1"), and the long jump (24'1"), breaking the Olympic record in the long jump, and becoming the only athlete in Olympic history to win both jumps at the same Olympics. Making the feat even more impressive is the fact that he won both medals on the same day! Prinstein also finished in fifth place in the 400-meter (the race had 13 competitors and there were no lanes), and fifth in the 60-meter sprint at the 1904 Games.
Myer's final Olympiad was the unofficial 1906 Athens Games, where he won the gold in the long jump (23'7-1/2"). He won the contest on his opening jump, but because there were so many competitors, he had to wait an hour for his second jump, injured his ankle and did not jump again. Despite the injury, he competed in the triple jump but finished 22nd in the event.
At the turn of the 20th century, Prinstein was one of the world's best jumpers. He came to national prominence in 1898 by setting an American long jump record of 23' 7-1/4". Two years later, in 1900, Prinstein set the world long jump record of 24' 7-1/4" (7.5 meters) at the Penn Relays. Malcolm Ford, a sportswriter and former long-jumper, wrote in the New York Mail and Express: "The great feature of his jumping is the rise which he gets after leaving takeoff...He has an unusually pretty style and impresses one that he always knows what he is doing." Prinstein, who became a lawyer after retiring, was the American long jump champion for three of the next five years.
In 1908, Prinstein was highlighted in an article entitled 'Activity of the Jews in Athletics' in the newspaper American Hebrew. The article exclaimed that Prinstein, "is considered the greatest jumper the world has ever seen. He not only excels in the running broad jump, in which he never had an equal, but he also has held the Amateur Metropolitan and National Championship for running broad jump, hop-skip-and-jump [triple jump], and one hundred-yard dash..." Prinstein is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the U.S. National Track and Field Hall of Fame. In April 2001, he was enshrined on the Penn Relays Wall of Fame
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1880 - d. March 1928
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Complete Book of the Olympics, by David Wallechinsky (New York: Viking, 1988)
American Hebrew, September 18, 1908