AMES, Iowa – Iowa State gymnast Ron Galimore took his sport by storm en route to becoming one of the greatest gymnasts of all-time. The Cyclone also blazed a trail to where no African-American had gone before after coming to the Iowa State campus in the fall of 1980.
Galimore was the son of NFL running back Willie Galimore, who played for the Chicago Bears. The elder Galimore is remembered as a fierce competitor. He was killed in a car accident when Ron was seven years of age.
Ron Galimore inherited his father’s athletic legacy. Before Ron recognized his passion for gymnastics, he played basketball, ran track, and even tried emulating his father, playing football. Eventually, one sport took priority, gymnastics. Galimore’s competitive edge made him engage in a sport where he had to rely on himself to get the outcome he wanted to achieve.
“I will say this, genes make a big difference,” Galimore said. “I was definitely given some athletic prowess through my dad. My father left me with a great name that opened up a lot of doors, and I got to hear a lot of stories from people he had impacted during his life. That combined advantage helped me in gymnastics. I feel very fortunate, and I wish that I could thank him personally.”
Ed Gagnier was Galimore’s coach at Iowa State. During the three years Gagnier coached Ron, he viewed him as the most explosive gymnast he had ever seen or had the opportunity to coach.
“Ron was a fit gymnast,” Gagnier said. “For starters, he had the muscular structure that no one else did, the unique ability to be able to explode in his performances. He seemed to be ahead of everybody else. He was so spectacular and could achieve such great height in his moves. It made him stand out.”
While at Iowa State, Galimore enjoyed unprecedented success. Perhaps his most notable achievement was scoring a perfect 10 on the vault at the 1981 NCAA Championships. This feat marked the first time in NCAA history any athlete had reached the perfect plateau. Galimore did it in his final collegiate vault, which made it more remarkable.
“It just so happened that year that the competition was very fierce,” Gagnier said. “The person in front of him had just scored a 9.9. Ron had to score a perfect vault to win. He did a flawless vault with a perfect landing.”