Oklahoma Olympians

Oklahoma-Olympians

Hey there, Nerdship!  Whenever the topic of where I am from comes up, I am always so pumped to say I’m from Oklahoma. We might not be the most progressive state politically, but the people are super-friendly, we have onion burgers and the cost of living is low. 🙂

We have had many members of Team USA hail from Oklahoma (though I am sad to report, I didn’t find even one winter Olympian. It almost never snows here. lol).

Oklahoma’s largest group of Olympians compete in wrestling. Wrestling has 2 Olympic styles: Greco-Roman and Freestyle. Greco-Roman first entered the modern Olympics in 1896, and has been included in every summer Games since 1908. Freestyle tagged in at the 1904 Games. It recently had to stand its ground, the IOC voted to remove it from the 2020 Games  almost exactly a year ago and after a long rally, was reinstated in September 2013 for the 2020 Games.

John Smith is a BAMF. He has wrestled his way to the top (literally): John won two NCAA titles, three Big Eight titles (predecessor to the Big 12) and was a three-time All-American. Internationally, he has six world championships and two Olympic golds. He now coaches the renowned Oklahoma State program.

Wrestlers:

  • John Smith (gold in ‘88 and ‘92)
  • Kenny Monday (gold ‘88, silver ‘92, 6th ‘96)
  • Danny Hodge  (silver ‘56)
  • Dave Schultz (gold ‘84)
  • Kendall Cross (6th ‘92, gold ‘96)
  • Wayne Wells (gold ‘72)
  • Guy H. Lookabaugh (4th ‘24)
  • Clarence Berryman (6th ‘28)
  • George Rule (6th ‘28)
  • Bobby Pearce (gold ‘32)
  • Jack VanBebber (gold ‘32)
  • Frank Lewis (gold ‘36)
  • Ross Flood (silver ‘36)
  • Hal Moore (6th ‘48)
  • Myron Roderick (4th ‘56)
  • Shelby Wilson (gold ‘60)
  • Doug Blubaugh (gold ‘60)
  • Bobby Douglas (4th ‘64)
  • Gene Davis (bronze ‘76)
  • Bruce Baumgartner (gold ‘84)
  • Jamill Kelly (silver ‘04)
  • Daniel Cormier (4th ‘04)
  • Coleman Scott (bronze ‘12)
  • Mark Schultz (gold ‘84)

 

Second-most popular is Track & Field. That’s a pretty big umbrella of sports, and I didn’t separate the Olympians by event.

Jim Thorpe was a multidisciplinary athlete. He played baseball, football, and competed in a multitude of track events. In 1912, he competed in both pentathalon and decathalon, scoring the gold in each. During the pentathalon, some jackhole stole his shoes and he finished up the competition in mismatched shoes he dug out of the trash.

Track:

  • Jim Thorpe (gold x2 1912)
  • JW (Jesse) Mashburn (gold ‘56)
  • Tom Von Ruden (9th ‘68)
  • Tom Churchill (5th ‘28)
  • Charles Dumas (gold ‘56)
  • Chryste Gaines (gold ‘96, bronze ‘00)
  • John Gondina (silver ‘96, bronze ‘00)
  • John W. “Lam” Jones (gold ‘76)
  • Jeff Bennett (4th ‘72)
  • Sol Butler (7th ‘20)
  • Tia Brooks (19th ‘12)

 

Third comes my favorite sport to watch, basketball. 🙂 I added my 3 favorite honorary Okies (even though Harden went to Houston, still gotta fear the Beard).

I love these men. That is all. KD, Russell, Harden: if you’re reading, I love you guys. 😀

 

Basketball:

  • Bob Kurland (gold ‘48, ‘52)
  • Jesse Renick (gold ‘48)
  • James King (gold ‘68)
  • Jerry Shipp (gold ‘64)
  • Wayman Tisdale (gold ‘84)
  • Kevin Durant (gold ‘12)
  • Russell Westbrook (gold ‘12)
  • James Harden (gold ‘12)

 

Gymnastics captivates the audience like few other sports do (the only thing that compares in my mind is ice skating). The grace and emotional artistry enthralls the audience.

Shannon Miller is the most decorated US Gymnast, male or female. Plus, she is a cancer survivor. Extra awesome points for her. 🙂 I remember watching her in Barcelona and Atlanta, my lil’ Okie heart bursting with pride.

Gymnastics:

  • Bart Conner (gold x2 ‘84)
  • Shannon Miller (silver x2, bronze x3 ‘92, gold x2 ‘96)
  • Kelly Garrison-Steves (4th team, 16th overall ‘88)
  • Jake Dalton (5th ‘12)

 

There are a few other sports represented, among them America’s Pastime.

Baseball:

  • Gary Green (gold ‘84)
  • Robin Ventura (gold ‘88)
  • Braden Looper (bronze ‘96)

Softball:

  • Michelle Smith (gold ‘96, ‘00)

Weightlifting:

  • Chad Vaughn (19th ‘04)
  • Shane Hamman (10th ‘00, 7th ‘04)

Swimming:

  • Jerry Heidenreich (gold x2, silver and bronze ‘72)

 

Now, I am sure I have overlooked some athletes in my research. Feel free to shout ‘em out if you want! Who’s from your home state? What events does your state produce the most competitors in? Tell us in the comments (or Facebook/Twitter/etc.).

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