Education Facts You Didn’t Know About Famous US Olympics Winners


The Rio Summer Olympics 2016 is at full swing, and every country is cheering on their teams to bring home the trophy.

Just three days ago, Team USA’s Virginia Thrasher won a gold medal for the women’s 10-meter air rifle competition. It was the first gold to be awarded at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and the country couldn’t be more proud.

Thrasher is a sophomore at West Virginia University, and her college will no doubt welcome her with a fitting parade after the competition.

With the Summer Olympics still ongoing, now is as good a time as any to get to know some college facts about some of the most memorable Olympic winners USA has produced.

Muhammad Ali

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., “Ali” became the most popular boxer of his generation in the 20th century, his fame carrying well into his old age, and even in death.

Ali won the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, at such a young age. He was a mere 18 year old, when he got the gold medal in the light heavyweight division.

While he had finished high school at Louisville Central High School in Kentucky, he never managed to attend college because of his boxing career and other endeavors in life like being a popular activist for the African-American community, and was also known for his opinions about the American troops in Vietnam.

Wilma Glodean Rudolph

She was a track and field sprinter, considered the fastest woman in the world. During the 1960 Summer Olympics, she won three gold medals in a single game, making her the first American woman to do so.

As a black woman, she, together with Muhammad Ali, were propelled to international stardom, earning her a series of nicknames like “The Tornado”.

Not many know, though, that Rudolph was paralyzed at a young age due to polio, and that she had survived scarlet fever by 12 years of age.

She took up playing basketball, with track and field in between seasons. At 16 years old, she and her team won a bronze medal at the 1965 Melbourne Games in a relay race.

In 1963, Rudolph enrolled in Tennessee State University, under the Elementary Education program. When she graduated, she worked as a teacher, then sports commentator, until her death in 1994 due to brain cancer.

Mary Lou Retton

Dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” for her charisma and determination during the 1984 Summer Olympics, Retton won the most number of medals among the participants in the 1984 games.

She had won one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals in gymnastics. The American press had called her “Sporstwoman of the Year”.

She studied at Fairmont Senior High School, but never finished it because of her participation in the 1984 games in Los Angeles when she was just a second year student.

She did get her diploma, after cramming in study sessions in between TV appearances. She pursued a career in the sports industry, but has long since retired from being a professional gymnast.

Michael Phelps

One of the most heavily awarded Olympics game winner of all times, Phelps began training in swimming at the age of seven. He had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and swimming became the outlet for his bursts of energy.

He had been only 15 years old, the youngest American Olympics athlete in over seven decades, when he was chosen to participate in the 2000 games in Australia.

He didn’t win, but after a year, he joined the 2001 World Aquatics Championship, and broke the world record with his victory in the 400m freestyle.

After that, Phelps went on to garner 4 gold and 2 silver medals, topping five world records.

And in the 2004 Olympics Games, he won 6 gold and two bronze medals, making him the participant with the most number of medals won, second only to Mark Spitz, legendary swimmer of 1972.

A few years after, Phelps managed to break Spitz’s records, earning over 23 medals.

Phelps had attended Rodgers Forge Elementary, Dumbarton Middle School, and Towson High School. He joined his coach, Bob Bowman, at the University of Michigan to train and attend some classes, but he did not choose to take up a college degree.

Now, Phelps is participating in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, and people everywhere are holding their breath to see how many awards he would bring home this time.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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