It’s a well-known fact that the Olympics are a major global event regarding the sports universe. Whether we’re talking about the winter or summer Games, this quadrennial conjuncture has the ability to glue everyone to their couches, around their TVs, while cheering not just for their country, but for the spirit of athletic achievement the Games promote altogether.
According to athletes, what’s totally true is that there’s no greater calling and honor for one than representing their country at the Olympics. It’s a unique chance to make your country proud. Mark Spitz and Mary Lou Retton, once anonymous, through dedication and ambition, became household names and A-listers whose pro achievements resonate even decades after they’ve retired.
Following today’s story, let’s reflect upon and take a look at the most respected American Olympians of all time.
Let’s start off with Jesse Owens. Regarding the Olympics’ global appeal and ancient tradition, it’s fairly hard to imagine how the Games could have an even more meaningful allure. In 1936, Germany was about to play a key role in the Second World War, while bursting with Nazism. It was then that the Olympic Games began in Berlin. With Hitler’s conceptual propaganda that the Aryan race was superior, Jesse Owens was the one to obliterate his notion over the course of one week. The American was medaled with gold in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the long jump, and as a participant of the 4×100 relay team. America took pride in Owens, while he made the Führer look like a complete fool.
Secondly, Ray Ewry, born in 1873, spent most of his childhood in a wheelchair due to a disease he was suffering from, polio. What’s widely known is that the first vaccine for this disease was developed later on, in 1952. However, Ewry, instead of becoming paralyzed for life, overcame his impairment, and between 1900 and 1908 he won eight gold medals in track and field. By taking home eight gold medals, his record stood for 100 years.
About the 1980 U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey, each and every player deserves credit for their high athletic performance. A team comprised of amateur and collegiate players, the States met the USSR in the semifinals of a game that was expected to be won by the Soviets. By scoring twice in the first 10 minutes, the Americans were given a lead they’d never hand over. Al Michaels delivered the most iconic call in sports history. Even though there was still one more game to play to lock up the gold medal, the American team managed to dispatch Finland 4-2, and brought home the title.
Furthermore, Michael Phelps is a legendary swimmer that will never be forgotten, even after his retirement. Being medaled with gold a whopping 18 times, during the course of three Olympics, Phelps became a household name in pro swimming, with a handful of accolades that established his status as one of the greatest American Olympians in history. He holds a total of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold. Remarkable, wouldn’t you agree?
Carl Lewis is next on our list, recognized by his impressive success and his remarkable longevity, by winning gold at four different Olympics, with a total of nice gold medals. In any case, Lewis is one of the most decorated track and field athlete in American history. He set world records in the 100-meter dash, indoor long jump, and 4×100 and 4×200 relays. Astonishingly, Lewis’ final gold medal came at age 35, by finishing first in the long jump for the 4th consecutive Olympics. There’s definitely no denying his astuteness concerning his love of competing for America.
Last but not least, Jim Thorpe is one of the purest athletes there is! Before winning two Olympic gold medals in 1912, for his outstanding performances in the pentathlon and decathlon, he was a two-time all-American in football, with accolades as running back, defensive back, placekicker, and punter. After his glorious Olympic era, Thorpe fiddled with Major League Baseball, he achieved a place in the NFL Hall of Fame, while also dribbling in a little basketball – he was part of a team known as the World Famous Indians. Basically, Thorpe was definitely dominating the sports scene back in the day!