Evelyn Ashford (100m, 200m / Athletics)
In the latter half of the 20th century, curious, America’s sprinter Evelyn Ashford took part in four Summer Games: Canada 1976, Los Angeles 1984, Korea 1988, and Spain 1992, after winning the right in the US Olympian Trials. By late 1980, she also was a member of the 1980 US Olympic Squad which boycotted the Moscow Games for political reasons. As well as winning several medals and special awards in the World Championships and National Tournaments, she won two Olympic medals during her athletic career, among them one gold medal in the women’s 100m at the 23rd Summer Games.
Thomas Burke (Track & Field)
During the First Modern Games in Greece’s capital city of Athens, toward the end of the 19th century, Thomas Burke won two Olympic gold medals: 100m and 400m, becoming a pioneer in the history of track and field. A few years later, the States had become a powerhouse in athletics on Earth, winning numerous Olympic gold medals and setting many world records.
Cassius Clay (Boxing)
At the 1960 Olympic Games in the Italian capital of Rome, Kentucky-born Cassius Clay –then known as Muhammad Ali– earned the light heavyweight gold medal. Thirty-six years later, he lit the Olympian torch for the Centennial Games in Atlanta (Georgia, US). After his victory on Italian soil, he became one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.
Janet Evans (Swimming)
By 1988, Janet Evans was one of the most famous swimmers on Earth, after capturing three gold medals — 400m, 800m, and 400m individual medley– in the Games of the 24th Olympiad in Seoul. Thus, a year later, she won James E. Sullivan Memorial Trophy. In 1992, she won another title in the Summer Games in Spain. During her Olympian career, she set seven world records. She hails from Fullerton, CA.
Mia Hamm (Soccer)
Almost everyone across the United States, from Chicago and Kansas City to Miami Beach, Salt Lake City, and Anchorage, have heard the name, Mia Hamm. Why? Historically, Miss Hamm is the most important player in America’s soccer history (male or female). By 1991, she quickly earned herself a name as a world-class player when her national squad came in first in the Inaugural FIFA World Championship. Then, she helped the US team to a gold medal in the first women’s Soccer Olympic Tournament during the 26th Summer Games. By 2004, her team finished first in the Summer Games in Athens after a silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Games. Aside from learning Olympic medals and other international meets, she also led the American side to its second FIFA World Cup at the end of the 1990s; Hamm and her fellow Americans had captured the global title by defeating the team from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), 5-4, on penal kicks in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (CA). Hamm was born on March 17, 1972, in Selma, Alabama. Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States, one of her fans.
Bruce Jenner (Decathlon / Track & Field)
At the 1976 Montreal Games, Bruce Jenner captured the decathlon event and set a new world record of 8.618 points during a battle with Nikolai Avilov of the USSR (his main rival), who finished third. Due to his noticeable performance in Canada, Jenner was one of the most popular sportsmen in the 70s.
Carl Lewis (Track & Field)
On the world stage, Carl Lewis is a sporting icon due to his wins in the Summer Games. Astonishingly, he has won nine Olympian gold medals (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, long jump), becoming one of the greatest male athletes in the 20th Century, along with Jesse Owens (track) and Nikolai Adrianov (gymnastics). In addition, he won 10 golds at the IAAF World Tournaments in Western Europe and Japan. He hails from Birmingham, Alabama.
Edwin Moses (Athletics)
Edwin Moses never lost a race from 1977 until 1987. 122 wins! Over that years, he amassed two Olympic gold medals (Montreal ’76 & Los Angeles’ 84). Moses came onto the scene as an international icon in the world when he captured the men’s 110m hurdles at the XXI Summer Games in Canada in July 1976. During those Games, he broke John Akii-Bua’s Olympic record with 47.64 seconds. Four years later, he lowered his personal record to 47.13
Jesse Owens (100m, 200m, long jump / Track & Field)
Jesse Owens wrote history for the United States of America after winning four Olympic gold medals at the 1936 Games in Berlin (Germany). With a time of 10.3 seconds (a new world record), he captured the 100m. Then, after defeating Lutz Long of Germany, the heavy-favorite in Berlin ’36, Owens came in first place in the men’s long jump. In addition to winning the gold, in the following day, he set a new Olympic record of 20.3 seconds in the 200m. Under the direction of Owens, USA won the men’s 4 x 100m with a new world record of 39.8 seconds. Owens hails from Alabama.
Michael Phelps (Aquatics)
Considered as the “Most Outstanding Athlete of the 21st Century”, Michael Phelps has won 14 more gold medals than the combined total of ten countries around the globe: India (a country with a billion inhabitants and which made its Olympic debut in 1900) Iceland, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Luxembourg, Moldova, Sudan, Brunei Darussalam, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. By 2004, Phelps captured six golds at the Athens Games. In the next Games, he picked a total of 8 Olympic gold medals. He was born on June 30, 1985, in Baltimore (Maryland).
Mark Spitz (Aquatics)
At the 1972 Munich Summer Games, the most outstanding swimming performance was achieved by Mark Spitz (USA), who picked up a total of seven golds. Prior to the 1970s, Spitz earned five continental trophies in the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), a record which remained unbeaten until 2007 when Brazil’s star swimmer Thiago Pereira won many golds in the Continental Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Jim Thorpe (Decathlon / Athletics)
With 8,847 points, Jim Thorpe became the first American to win the Olympic decathlon during the Games of the 5th Olympiad in Stockholm, Sweden. Historically, he is considered one of the greatest all-around athletes of all time. Curiously, this amazing athlete won membership in more athletic halls of fame than any other American in the Twentieth Century. Following his sporting career, he chose acting as a career. He has become the most popular athlete in American history.