David Torrence, an Olympic runner who ran for Cal from 2004 to 2008, was found dead in a swimming pool at his condo in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Monday. He was 31.
Remembered for his fervor and passion for the sport, Torrence leaves behind a legacy as notable for his tangible accomplishments as for the inspiration he brought to others.
At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, Torrence competed for Peru. He qualified for the finals in the 5000-meter race and came in 15th, breaking numerous Peruvian time records along the way.
“Today we lost an amazing athlete and an even greater friend,” said fellow runner Kyle Merber in a series of tweets. “I was going to pick David up at the airport in a few days to come to my house like he does every September.”
Torrence was training in Scottsdale, in part for the Hoka One One Long Island Mile, a race he had won twice in the past and was currently seeking to defend.
“He was going for #3 this year. He was going to get after it like he always does (because) he’s fearless”
Torrence came to Cal from Reseda, California, and immediately embarked upon a record-setting college career. He excelled in both cross country and track. In 2004, he set the record for Cal freshmen in the 1500 meters, a time that still stands unbeaten, and in 2007, he set the then-overall Cal record in the mile.
“I can’t think of anyone of my guys who best represented all that’s good about Cal cross country and track & field,” said Cal director of track & field Tony Sandoval said in a statement.
His pace did not slow once he left school. He won the USATF Road Mile in three consecutive years starting in 2009, breaking the four-minute mark twice.
In international competitions outside of the Olympics, Torrence also shined, running for the United States in the 2014 IAAF World Relays and the 2015 Pan-American Games. In the former event, he helped the United States to the silver medal in the 4×1500 meter relay, and in the latter, he again placed second — this time as an individual — in the 5000-meter event.
Torrence’s influence went beyond his work on the track. He was a notable advocate for anti-doping efforts. Known for the frank way he talked about the subject, he provided information to the IAAF that helped in the 2016 arrest of a coach he briefly worked with.
“He was a runner from Loyola High School who dedicated himself at Cal and afterwards to become an Olympian, American-record holder and an athlete who everyone loved and respected,” Sandoval said in a statement.