Donald Sanford (athlete)

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Donald Blair-Sanford
DonaldSanford DSC2961 799 1200.jpg
Personal information
Full name Donald Blair-Sanford
Nickname(s) DBS
Citizenship American–Israeli
Born (1987-02-05) February 5, 1987 (age 31)
Inglewood, Los Angeles, California
Residence Kibbutz Ein Shemer, Israel
Alma mater
Height 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)[1]
Weight 83 kg (183 lb)[1]
Spouse(s) Danielle Dekel
Country  Israel
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 400m
Club Maccabi Tel Aviv
Coached by Lloyd Cowan
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 400m; 45.04 seconds
Updated on October 10, 2015.

Donald Blair-Sanford (born February 5, 1987) is an American–Israeli Olympic sprinter, who specialises in the 400 metre dash.

His personal record at 400 metres is 45.04 seconds. He represented Israel in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He won the bronze medal in 400 metres at the 2014 European Athletics Championships, with a new Israeli record of 45.27 seconds. Competing for Israel at the 2015 European Games, Sanford won with a time of 45.75.

Early life

Sanford was born, one of four children, in Inglewood in Los Angeles County, California, to Donald E. Sanford Jr. and Debra Blair.[2] He attended City Honors High School in Inglewood.[3] He won the 400m dash at the California Interscholastic Federation Division III Championships, and was a member of the National Honor Society.[4]

He competed for one season at Morgan State University, running a season-best time of 46.92 to place second at the IC4A Championships.[4]

He became an Israeli citizen after marrying Israeli basketball player Danielle Dekel, whom he met when they were both students at Central Arizona College where she was playing basketball for the school.[2][5] He earned an associate degree at Central Arizona in 2007, where he ran on two NJCAA Outdoor Championship teams (in 2006 and 2007).[4]

He also studied at Arizona State University, which he represented in athletic competitions within the United States,[4] and set his 400m personal record of 45.21 seconds. He was the 2010 NCAA runner-up at 400 meters and was part of the 4×400-meter indoor and outdoor relays that season, and was named an All-American.[6]


Sanford's club is Maccabi Tel Aviv, and he is coached by Lloyd Cowan.[1]

In 2012, Sanford represented Israel for the first time at a major sporting event, finishing 4th at the European Athletic Championships, held in Helsinki, nine-hundredths of a second away from a medal at 45.91 seconds.[7]

A little over a month later, he ran in the 2012 Summer Olympics. His shoes were stolen from his bag just ahead of his qualifying heat, and he had to run in a teammate's shoes.[8][9] He finished fifth in a time of 45.71 seconds, in a race won by double-amputee South African Oscar Pistorius, and did not make it out of the qualifying rounds.[10][11] He was ranked 26th, two places and one-tenth of a second behind the runners who qualified for the semifinals.[12]

In 2014, Sanford won the bronze medal in the 400 metres sprint at the European Athletic Championships held in Zurich on August 15, 2014, with a new Israeli record of 45.27 seconds.[13] He dedicated his medal to the Israel Defense Forces.[13] He was the second Israeli to win a medal at the European Athletic Championships, after Alex Averbukh won gold medals in the pole vault in 2002 and 2006.[13][14]

In December 2014, he was named Israeli Sportsman of the Year.[15]

In June 2015, competing for Israel at the 2015 European Games, Sanford won the 400 m in 45.75, a European Games record, as Team Israel won a bronze medal.[16][17]


Sanford and his wife married in 2008, and live in Kibbutz Ein Shemer with their daughter Amy.[7]

Personal bests

Distance Time Place Date
400m 45.21 sec Eugene, Oregon June 13, 2010
400m 45.27 sec Zürich, Switzerland August 15, 2014
400m 45.04 sec Meteor Stadium, Zhukovsky July 19, 2015


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Baku 2015 1St European Games - Athletes - BLAIR SANFORD Donald". Baku 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tal Ben Ezra (July 9, 2012). "Olympics/ Profile/ Proud to run for his adopted country". Haaretz.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Donald Sanford". Flotrack.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Donald Sanford Profile – Arizona State University Official Athletic Site".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sinai, Allon (July 12, 2012). "Introducing Israel's Olympians: Donald Sanford". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 15, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Donald Sanford (track and field – Israel)". ASU News. July 20, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Allon Sinai (July 12, 2012). "Introducing Israel's Olympians: Donald Sanford". The Jerusalem Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Yoel Goldman (August 4, 2012). "Israeli runner fails to qualify for semis in 400m after shoes stolen". The Times of Israel.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. David Segal (August 4, 2012). "Before Sprints at Olympic Track, Sitting Down at the Table", The New York Times
  10. Oren Aharoni (August 4, 2012). "Olympics: Israeli sprinter blames loss on stolen shoes". ynet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Donald Sanford". Olympics at<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Shaul Adar (August 5, 2012). "Stolen shoes cause a nightmare for Israeli sprinter at London 2012". Haaretz.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Sanford dedicates Euro medal to IDF". The Jewish Chronicle. August 15, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Allon Sinai (August 15, 2014). "Sanford makes history as first Israeli sprinter to win medal at European Championship". The Jerusalem Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Green Fay Cashman (December 30, 2014). "Grapevine: The spice of life in Israel". The Jerusalem Post.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "European Athletics". european-athletics. June 23, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Results", Baku 2015

External links