Wellness Center honors Cuero Olympian

The Cuero Wellness Center recently commissioned a wall display that highlights the athletic achievements of Fred Hansen, the 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist in the pole vault who was born and raised in Cuero.

Hansen, whose athletic roots began at Cuero High School, was a four-sport letterman in football, baseball, basketball and track. In 1959 he broke the State Record in the pole vault at 13’ 5.5” as well as setting the State Record in the Broad Jump at 23’ 11.75”. That record stood for 57 years until 2016 when it was broken by another outstanding Cuero Gobbler, Kamron Mathis.

Hansen continued his education and track & field career at Rice University. As a grad student, he set a new world record in the pole vault clearing 17’1”, then breaking his own record a week later at 17’2”. The next month, he broke the record for a third time with a vault of 17’4”.

With aspirations of competing at the 1964 Olympics, Hansen’s hard work and dedication advanced him to the pre-Olympic trials which qualified the top eight vaulters. Those athletes competed in the final Olympic trials in Los Angeles. The top three vaulters went to the Olympics. Hansen was one of them.

One month after Hansen’s LA win, he was off to Tokyo, Japan to represent the United States in pole vaulting. Ten days later, he won the Olympic Gold Medal with a record of 16’8 ¾” beating out a field of 29 competitors.

Shortly after winning his Olympic Gold Medal, Hansen continued his winning ways in pole vaulting competitions in Osaka, Japan, and in Melbourne and Sidney, Australia. Exhausted from travel and competing, he returned to the United States and gave up his pole vaulting career for good.

Hansen went on to dental school at Baylor University College of Dentistry. He practiced his profession for 43 years in Houston before retiring in 2012.

The permanent display was produced by Liz Heiser of Victoria, who has previously created exhibits on Hansen for the Cuero Heritage Museum and in the new addition at Cuero High School.

Plans are for similar displays to be created in the future honoring outstanding athletes from the Cuero area.

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