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Paul McMullen, '96 US Olympic runner, dies in ski accident

·1 min read
FILE - In this July 29, 1996, file photo, United States' Paul McMullen (2378), left, is seen during their 1,500 meter heat at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. McMullen, died in a ski accident in northern Michigan, Eastern Michigan University said Friday, March 5, 2021. He was 49. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Paul McMullen, a runner who was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, died in a ski accident in northern Michigan, Eastern Michigan University said Friday. He was 49.

McMullen died Thursday, according to EMU, where he still has school records for the indoor mile (3:57.34) and the outdoor 1500 meters (3:38.74).

In '96, McMullen won the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters, qualifying for the Olympics in Atlanta that year. He made it to the semifinals.

“Paul was such a great guy and I am so sad for his beautiful family. I really have no words,” said Sue Parks, EMU's director of cross country and track.

McMullen, a native of Cadillac in northern Michigan, lived with his wife and three children in Grand Haven, where he led a running club for kids called Chariots of Fire.

“He was always kind of an anomaly because he was 6-2 and change and probably 170 pounds,” said Tim Nichols, a former EMU runner. “Most of the guys he was competing with were 5-8, 120 pounds. He looked like a giant when he was on the track with a lot of guys he was running against."

McMullen lost two toes in a lawn mowing accident in 1997. But he still won the mile run the next year at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships.