Cornelius Warmerdam

Cornelius Warmerdam

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Dutch Warmerdam
Event pole vault
Born June 22, 1915 at Long Beach, CA
Died Nov 13, 2001 at Fresno, CA
College Fresno State College

Cornelius ("Dutch") Warmerdam (1915 – 2001) was a long time pole vault world record holder and is considered to be among the all time greatest vaulters.

He was born in Long Beach, California. Vaulting throughout his career with a bamboo pole, Warmerdam was the first vaulter to clear 15 feet (4.57 m), accomplishing that feat at UC Berkeley on April 13, 1940. During his career, Warmerdam vaulted 15 feet 43 times in competition, while no other vaulter cleared the mark a single time. Warmerdam increased the pole vault record seven times in a four year span. His highest outdoor vault was 15' 7-3/4" (4.77 m) in 1942, a record which stood until 1957 when Bob Gutowski broke the mark using a metal pole.

He didn’t advance to the 1936 Olympic trials, but he raised his best to 14 feet, 4 inches in 1937 and won the Pan American Games in Dallas that year. Warmerdam won the James E. Sullivan Award in 1942 but was never able to compete in the Olympics because the 1940 and 1944 games were cancelled due to World War II, and by 1948 he was coaching professionally and therefore ineligible.

dedic2001_02.jpg Warmerdam was an assistant track coach at Fresno State College (FSC) from 1947 to 1960 and the head coach from 1961 to 1980. FSC named its track stadium Warmerdam Field in his honor. Dutch is a member of several halls of fame, including the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974, the USTFFCCCA Hall of Fame in 1995, and the Millrose Games Hall of Fame. At the National Pole Vault Summit 2000, Warmerdam was named "American Vaulter of the Century."[1]

In addition to his exceptional athletic career, Dutch earned his bachelors degree from FSC and his masters degree from Stanford, served in the U. S. Navy and eventually returned to his alma mater to teach and coach at FSC. He has also coached U.S. athletes for international competitions such as the Pan American Games, and has served as director of the West Coast Relays, and as a member of the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Committee.


dedic2001_01.jpg Cornelius Warmerdam grew up in Hanford, CA, the son of Dutch emigrants Adrianus and Gertrude Warmerdam. Because of his ancestry he was more commonly known to both friends and, later, to the media as "Dutch." Warmerdam got his start in pole vaulting in his backyard using the limb of a peach tree and landing in a pit of piled up dirt. He was discovered by the local track coach and vaulted for Hanford High School until his graduation in 1932. He tied for third in the pole vault in the 1932 state high school track and field championships, but no four-year college offered him an athletic scholarship.

He worked on his father’s 40-acre farm picking peaches and apricots for the next year and a half before a sporting goods salesman, tipped off by the high school track coach, watched Warmerdam clear a crossbar more than twice his 6-foot height while vaulting alongside a spinach patch. The salesman told FSC Coach Flint Hanner about what he saw, and Warmerdam began vaulting for FSC in spring 1934.

Warmerdam married Juanita Anderson on August 29, 1940, and they were married for 61 years until Dutch's death in Fresno, California, from Alzheimer's in 2001. They left behind five children and twenty grandchildren.

External links


  1. Retrieved 2009-01-02.