Clyde Jeffrey Athlete, Pre 1960

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Dec 21, 2010 1 Comment ›› Riverside Sport Hall of Fame

Athlete, Pre 1960

Considered the World’s Fastest Human in the late 1930s, running on clay tracks and fund-raising to travel, he brought Riverside its first taste of national acclaim. World War II cost him a chance at Olympic glory, and an injury ended his track career early, but he racked up national championships and world records in his three years of sprinting.

Clyde JeffreyA Riverside resident for almost all his life, Clyde graduated from Poly High School in 1937 and went on to Riverside City College, where his meteoric rise began. He tied the junior college record in the 100-yard dash (9.6 seconds) and broke junior college records in the 220 (20.5). Clyde beat 1936 Olympic silver medalist Mack Robinson in a 200-meter final at the Compton Invitational; he also raced Robinson’s brother, Jackie, beating the future baseball star in an exhibition before an Angels game in 1938.

At the 1938 AAU national championships, Clyde earned a spot on the U.S. track team and a scholarship offer from Stanford. He traveled to Europe and broke the world record in the 150-yard dash (13.8). In his first season at Stanford, he went unbeaten in the Pacific Coast Conference in the 100 and 220, won both events at the conference meet, then captured the 1939 NCAA championship in the 220 and was runner-up in the 100 in a photo finish.

Clyde went on to win the 1939 AAU national title in the 100 meters, tying Jesse Owens’ world record with a wind-aided 10.2. He tied the world 100-yard record the next year (9.4) and set the world record in the mile relay (3:10.5) before a lingering hamstring injury forced him to quit sprinting after a runner-up finish in the NCAA 100 final.

He was a reserve with the Rose Bowl-champion 1941 Stanford football team, then served as an assistant track coach. After war service in the Navy, he worked for the Riverside Probation Department for more than 30 years. In 1956, he was honored as the Riverside Optimist Club’s Man of the Year.


  1. Donald Jeffrey says:

    Clyde Jeffrey never talked much about his world record setting accomplishments. Instead he talked about his life in Riverside and how important it was to get life started with a good education, and that everything else would fall into place.
    Clyde was one of thoes people who could spend a restful Saturday watching a game on television, with the Sports Page in his lap and more sports on the transister radio …… all at the same time. But, he would dash away from it all if he was needed.
    Of most importance to him was his family and friends.
    This all made him a fantastic Father,
    Don Jeffrey.