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Boy-wonder Mathias elevated decathlon

Updated: September 5, 2006, 11:57 AM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Sports are filled with true-life fairy tales, stories that are more amazing than fiction. But even accepting that premise, the rise of Bob Mathias almost defies belief.

One day the 17-year-old Californian is a regional prep star. A few months later, he's a national hero. Before 1948, Mathias had never participated in a decathlon. That summer in London, he won the Olympic gold medal in the grueling 10-event competition.

Quite an accomplishment for anybody, but especially for someone ...

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