Wottle at the 1972 Olympics
August 7, 1950|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||66 kg (146 lb)|
|Event(s)||800 meters, 1500 meters, Mile|
|College team||Bowling Green|
|Achievements and titles|
800 m - 1:44.3|
1500 m - 3:36.2
Mile - 3:53.3
David James Wottle (born August 7, 1950) is an American retired middle-distance track athlete. He was the gold medalist in the 800 meter run at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He was known for wearing a golf cap while running.
Dave Wottle was born in Canton, Ohio. During his childhood he was very slim and feeble. His family doctor told him that he needed to do something, such as running, to strengthen himself. The young boy took this advice and started to run.
He earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bowling Green State University in 1973. Competing for the university, he finished second to Marty Liquori in the mile run at the 1970 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. During the 1971 season Wottle was hampered by injuries, but a year later in 1972 he won the 1,500 meter race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and at the 1973 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships he won the mile run in a time of 3:57.1.
In the 800 meter final at the Olympics, Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field, and stayed there for the first 500 m, at which point he started to pass runner after runner up the final straightaway. He seized the lead in the final stretch to beat pre-race favorite Yevgeny Arzhanov of the Soviet Union by just 0.03 seconds. This gained him the nickname of "The Head Waiter". (Another nickname was "Wottle the Throttle"). Stunned by his victory, Wottle forgot to remove his cap on the podium during the national anthem. This was interpreted by some as a form of protest, but Wottle later apologized at the news conference following the medals ceremony. He also competed in the 1500 meter run at the Munich Olympics, but he was eliminated in the semi-finals.
His signature cap was originally used for practical purposes. He sported long hair at the peak of his career, so the hat kept his hair out of his face. After realizing the cap was part of his identity and for good luck, he wore it for the remainder of his career.
Wottle turned professional in 1974, but retired quite soon after that. Later, he became a college track coach at Walsh College (Ohio) (1975-77) and Bethany College (West Virginia) where he also served as Director of Admissions (1977-81).
Wottle served as an administrator at Rhodes College from August 1983 until his retirement in June 2012. He was Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for 28 years before spending his final year at the school as the Special Assistant to the President. He then served as the Interim Vice-President for Enrollment Management at Millsaps College. Since September 2013, Wottle has been the interim Vice President for Enrollment at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.