It was Frank Potts, his track coach at the University of Colorado, who predicted greatness for Bill Toomey. No prediction could have been more accurate or involved less gamble.
Recognized as one of the greatest all-around track and field athletes in history, Toomey’s dedication and perseverance, combined with intense desire and determination, enabled him to capture just about every honor and award available to a track and field athlete.
Winner of the Olympic Decathlon in Mexico City in 1968—a triumph said to identify the finest athlete in the world—Toomey was also the holder of the world-record for the grueling ten-event test.
Bill Toomey is a legend. Handsome and articulate, the former schoolteacher was credited with eight of the eleven best scores in the recorded history of the decathlon. He won five straight U.S. Amateur Athletic Union championships before finally breaking the world decathlon record in December of 1969 with 8,417 points. That same year, he set a world record of 4,123 points for the pentathlon. He won four National AAU titles in that five-event competition before abandoning it for the decathlon.
In 1969, Toomey’s string of triumphs was awesome. In that year, he competed in ten decathlons—most decathletes limited themselves from two to four. During that triumphant year, Bill married another track and field great, Mary Rand of England, winner of the gold, silver and bronze medals in the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Toomey retired from track and field competition in 1970 and made his home in Goleta, California. He became a research specialist for Mead-Johnson and Company, working closely with vitamins, food supplements and training needs for athletes.
As a member of the Board of Advisors for the Peace Corps, he conducted track, field and physical education clinics in a half dozen African nations. Toomey has also been a member of the President’s Physical Fitness Council and the U.S Olympics Committee.
Toomey was born in Philadelphia; he graduated from the University of Colorado in 1962 and earned a Master’s degree in education from Stanford.
In 1971, this all-time track star was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
Bill Toomey is a legend.