CU began its Olympic legacy in 1948 with David Bolen (Mktg’50, MS’50), a rising track star and promising business major from Louisiana. He transferred to CU in 1947 from Southern University after CU track coach Frank Potts watched Bolen easily crush a 12-year record in an event Bolen had never run before. He finished the 1947 season unbeaten and was the Mountain States Conference champion in the 440- and 880-yard run.
Bolen earned fourth place in the 400-meter dash at the 1948 London Olympics. Upon return from the games, he received the Robert Russell Memorial Award and became the Most Outstanding Athlete in the Rocky Mountain Area in 1948. His success in the Olympics opened up many racing opportunities in Eastern Europe for Bolen and his teammates in following years.
In 1950 Bolen simultaneously earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business that led to a highly celebrated career in politics and economics. CU’s first Olympic athlete broke records in both sports and politics. His international career began in 1974 when he was named U.S. ambassador to Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. In 1977 President Carter assigned Bolen to negotiate agreements between the Americans, East and West Germans and the Soviets.