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milt MILTON GRAY CAMPBELL (December 9, 1933 to November 2, 2012) was truly a Plainfield Champion as well as state, national and world champion. He captured the 1956 GOLD Medal and became the world’s Olympic Decathlon Champion.  He was the first African American to win it.

He first heard the word "decathlon" when he asked his Plainfield High School coach, Harold Bruguiere, about which sport he should center on: football, high jump, track, hurdles or swimming. He was already a Plainfield High School Football star and was soon to be named a National All American Swimmer. As soon as he heard of the Olympic Decathlon, in which athletes compete in ten sports to select the best athlete in the world, he decided to go for that.

His success was no accident. He dedicated himself to constant work and practice and was determined to excel overcoming racial barriers. In both 1950 and 1951 he was named National Hurdles Champion. In 1952, during his junior year at Plainfield High School, he won America’s National Decathlon Champion. Campbell flew next to Helsinki to compete in the 1952 Olympics where he won the Silver Medal in the Olympic Decathlon. When he returned to Plainfield as Olympic medal winner, he heard that he had just been named the World’s Greatest High School Athlete.

After he graduated from Plainfield High School he went to Indiana University on a football scholarship and was named College All American in 1953, 1954 and 1955. He then went to the 1956 Olympics in Australia and took the Gold Medal in the Decathlon. He went on to the National Football League, the Canadian Football League, and the United States Navy. He had an indelible impact on amateur and professional sports and has dedicated his entire life and career to education and leadership.

This online exhibit contains 45 images of Milt Campbell with family, friends, coaches, and other athletes. Some highlights include: Plainfield High School sports, 1953 Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) National Decathlon, 1956 International Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, Milt's homecoming back to Plainfield, and a variety of awards and medals. There are also pictures of him with famous athletes such as Aubrey Lewis, Bob Richards, Andy Stanfield, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Plainfield's own Joe Black.

All of the rare images shown in this exhibit come from the newly donated Courier News Photograph Archive, part of Plainfield Public Library's Local History Collections. Archival work on this collection was made possible by funding from the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs.

Click on an image below to view more photographs.

CN1307 Plainfield High
School Years
CN1343 Decathlon and Olympic Games
and Awards
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