Obituary: Harry Connolly, Olympic athlete

Harry Connolly, Olympic athlete. Born: 1 August, 1931, in Somerville, Massachusetts. Died: 18 August, 2010, in Catonsville, Maryland, aged 79.

Harold Connolly overcame a withered left arm to win the hammer throw in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and then married the women's discus champion, Olga Fikotova of Czechoslovakia, after a storybook Cold War romance.

Connolly's left arm was injured during birth, and he fractured it 13 times as a child. His left arm grew to be four and a half inches shorter than his right and his left hand two-thirds the size of his right.

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When he won his Olympic gold medal, photographers yelled at him to raise his arms in triumph. He lifted only his right arm. What Connolly lacked in arm strength, he made up for with speed and leg power.

As he wrote in his unpublished memoirs: "I began to consider myself a reject, chained to a small army of twisted bodies in the hospital waiting room, and responded by trying to ignore my crippled associates."

Connolly competed in four Olympics, finishing eighth in 1960 and sixth in 1964 and not qualifying for the final in 1968. He broke the world record six times. In the 1956 Olympics, which he won. he wore ballet shoes for better footing.

Earlier at those Olympics, Connolly met Fikotova. A romance ensued, and the the following year he went to Prague and received permission from the Czech president to marry her. They were divorced in 1974. In 1975, he married Pat Daniels, who became the a running coach.

Connolly became secondary school teacher and vice principal. After retiring in 1999, he became a travelling coach and salesman for the hammer throw and ran a promotional website.

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