One of the greatest Olympic champions in history later became a respected and successful abstract artist.

Al Oerter did the unthinkable — he won the same event four games in a row. Beginning in 1956, he racked up four gold medals in 16 years in the discus. Then, after 10 years of retirement, he achieved his personal best and nearly made the team at the age of 43.

Weeks before his death in 2007, he explained to Growing Bolder how he kept getting better with age and what inspired his creative side.

He spent the last several years of his life struggling with cardiovascular disease and rejected his doctor’s suggestions he undergo a heart transplant, saying, “I’ve had an interesting life, and I’m going out with what I have.” He died at the age of 71.

To check out some of his works, click here.