Rolland Romero – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Track & Field, 1931-36
Loyola University/1932 & 1936 Olympics
One of the top triple-jumpers (then known as the hop, step and jump) in the world in the 1930s, Rolland Romero was a four-time All-American at Loyola University and qualified for both the 1932 and the 1936 Olympics.
Began attending Loyola in 1931 as a 16-year old and competed in track and field for Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame coach Tad Gormley.
He jumped 49 feet, 10 and a quarter inches at the 1932 Southern AAU junior championships – the best performance by any American in 19 years (topping Dan Ahearn’s mark from 1913).
At the 1932 U.S. Olympic Trials in Palo Alto, Calif., Romero posted a jump of 48 feet, 10 and a quarter inches to take second place and earn a spot on Team USA – the youngest member of the team as he was still just 17. He placed eighth at the Los Angeles Olympic Games with a top mark of 48 feet, eight and a half inches.
In 1935, he set a National AAU record of 50 feet, four and seven-eighths inches. He registered his personal-best mark of 50 feet, eight and three-quarter inches in Houston on June 5, 1936. After taking second place at the 1936 AAU National meet, he came back a week later to win the U.S. Olympic Trials.
In 1936, Romero briefly held the world record in the event when he was the first person to break 52 feet at the Texas Centennial Games in Dallas. However, that mark was broken by Japan’s Naoto Tajima, who jumped 52 feet, five and 15.16 inches (16.0 meters) to win Gold at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Romero was fifth at those Olympic Games with a distance of 49 feet, five and half inches (15.08 meters). Romero actually topped Tajima’s distance, but it was determined he had fouled on the jump – a recurring problem throughout his career.
On the national scene, he enjoyed playing up his Louisiana roots by saying he learned how to jump in the swamps by “jumping over alligators, creaks and rice swamps.”
Also an outstanding football player at Loyola, he was a charter member of the Loyola Sports Hall of Fame (1964) and was also inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
Born August 21, 1914, Romero had his first athletic milestones while attending Welsh High School in Welsh, La. He was a member of the school’s first football team and scored its first touchdown. He died on November 25, 1975 at the age of 61.