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Posted 21 Sep 2001   For week ended September 21, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 21Sep01

By Kent Larsen

LDS Olympian Drowns in Fishing Accident

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Former Olympic runner and member of BYU's Athletic Hall of Fame Paul Cummings drowned Monday in a fishing accident on Strawberry Reservoir near Salt Lake City. Cummings was a versatile runner, a five-time All-American track star who competed in the 1984 Olympics and set records in the 15 kilometer and indoor 1,500 meter races. He was 48.

According to police reports, Cummings was fishing with a friend about 120 feet from shore when their canoe tiped over in the choppy 69-degree water. The friend was able to swim to shore, but Cummings didn't make it. Police recovered his body from about 62 feet of water Monday night.

Cummings was born September 5, 1953 in Tempe, Arizona, but was raised in Santa Monica, California where, as a youth, he played junior high school basketball, but failed to make the high school team. But when he came in first in the mile in his P.E. class, the coach asked him to join the track team. By the time he graduated from high school, Cummings was second in California in the mile and was seventh in the nation.

He went on to attend BYU, where he was All-American in cross country in five consecutive years. In 1974 he won the NCAA championship in the mile with a time of 4:01.2. He eventually became the 66th person to run the mile in less than 4 minutes, and, showing his versatility, became one of perhaps 30 runners to run both a sub-4-minute mile and run a marathon under 2 hours and 12 minutes.

He trained for the 1980 Olympics, but was one of those disappointed when the US declined to participate in the Moscow games. He then competed in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, running in the 10,000 meters, but he didn't qualify for the finals.

Cummings married the former Debra Gaye Anhder in the Oakland California Temple, and was a resident of Lehi, Utah where he worked as a pipe inspector for Geneva Steel. He was also a director of the Wolf Creek Running Camp for elite high school distance runners.

BYU track coach Doug Padilla said Cummings had great form, "It's sad. We're going to miss him. We did so many things together. He was absolutely a piture-perfect runner with perfect form." Retired BYU track coach Willard Hirschi called him an "exceptional athlete," and added that Cummings was also a wonderful person, "He was very, very quiet. Paul was not much for conversation, but he was always and exceptional person. He was one who led by example, and was always taciturn . . . He was one of BYU's greats."


Former Olympian Dies at 48
Salt Lake Tribune 19Sep01 P2
By Michael C. Lewis: Salt Lake Tribune

Paul Cummings
Salt Lake Tribune 19Sep01 P2

Paul R. Cummings
Cougar Club Hall of Fame


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