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  • Writer's pictureWendell Maxey

Jewish Sports Heritage Association Inducts Staten Islander and Olympic Icon, Abel Kiviat

What a well-deserved honor it was for a late Staten Islander and Olympic legend.

It was just weeks ago in late April that Abel Kiviat – one of the most iconic athletes of the 20th century who is named among the greats of his era along with Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe – was inducted as a member into the Jewish Sports Heritage Association.

The induction ceremony took place at Temple Israel in Lawrence, New York and was attended for free by the general public, friends, and family who gathered to remember the iconic Abel. His accolades are written in the history books and remain another bright spot for the Jewish community in Staten Island, and around the world.

As noted in the Staten Island Advocate, Kiviat became America’s great­est mid­dle dis­tance run­ner of the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry and held 14 indi­vid­ual and five relay world records, including the indoor 1-mile record, and in 1912 broke the outdoor 1500 meters world record three times in a span of almost three weeks.

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Kiviat (a roommate of the legendary Jim Thorpe) would net a silver (1500) and a gold (3000 relay) competing for the United States. Kiviat, who also won Indoor titles at the Millrose Games, was the 1913 USA Cross-Country Champion.

In 1984 and 1985, Abel received two inductions that seemingly solidified his status as a 20th century star when he was inducted in the the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame. In 2016, Abel was recognized for his incredible feats by having the corner of Oxford Place and Forest Avenue renamed in his honor as “Abel Kiviat Way”, with close to 100 activists, sportsmen, friends and family gathering for the occasion.

With the chance to applaud his greatness, it’s wonderful to see Kiviat – a Curtis High School phenom and Staten Island Sports Hall of Famer – continue to “receive his flowers” all of these years later. It’s yet another reason why the Abel Kiviat Memorial Race held annually at Curtis remains a special and sentimental event.

He made Staten Island proud back then.

He makes Staten Island proud even today.

In 1991 at 99 years old, Abel Kiviat was the oldest living American Olympic medalist at the time of his death and now 32 years later his legacy lives on thanks to being inducted into the Jewish Sports Heritage Association.

*photo credit to SISHOF: 1910 Mecca Cigarette card featuring Abel Kiviat, part of the company’s Champion Athletes series.



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