Norman Stephen Taber, 1891-1952, a native of Providence and a student at Brown, won a gold medal in the now discontinued 3,000 meter team relay race in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. He was also the bronze medalist in the 1,500-meter run (the metric mile). Taber’s time of 3:56:9 was only one-tenth of a second behind the winner Arnold Jackson of Great Britain who set the Olympic record in that race. Taber held Brown University records in the 880, the mile, and the two mile runs for many years. In 1915 he set the world record for the mile run of 4:12.6. This record endured until 1923 when the great Paavo Nurmi (“The Flying Finn”) ran the distance in 4:10.4.
Although Taber was Rhode Island’s first gold medalist in track and field he was not the state’s first medalist. That distinction goes to another Brown middle-distance runner David C. Hall, who won the bronze in the 800 meters at the Paris Games in 1900, despite losing a shoe. Without that mishap, Hall, whose winning time in his qualifying heat was 1:56:2, should have been able to beat the gold medal time of 2:02:2.