Glenn Cunningham

Glenn Cunningham (1909 – 1988), an American distance runner and 1932 and 1936 Olympian, overcame incredible adversity to achieve world records as an athlete. Glenn, at age eight, suffered severe burns in a schoolhouse fire. Predicting that Glenn might suffer lifelong impairment, doctors recommended bilateral amputation. This prospect so distressed Glenn that his parents declined the procedure. In 1919, about two years after the calamity, Glenn began to walk again, enabling him to begin the approach to his athletic potential. Ultimately, at age 24, Glenn Cunningham set the world record for the mile at 4:06.8. Four years later, he reduced that time by more than 2 seconds.

Glenn Cunningham demonstrated both physical strength and fortitude. He attributed his inspiration to Isaiah 40:31—“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Thus, Glenn Cunningham exemplifies how the parallel between his strength and fortitude—between physical competency and psychosocial competency—informs the processes whereby we may assume our potential to develop as psychosocial athletes.

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