Big Ten To Send At Least 69 Participants And Coaches To The 2004 Olympic Games In Athens
Aug. 10, 2004
Park Ridge, IL -- The Big Ten Conference will boast at least 69 athletes and coaches competing for gold medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, from August 13-29. The group of League competitors, which includes 21 former Olympians and six past medalists, will represent 16 different countries and all 11 Big Ten institutions in 14 different sports.
Big Ten universities will be sending at least 58 current or former student-athletes or coaches who will be representing their countries as participants in the 2004 Olympic games. That list includes 28 members of the United States Olympic Team, along with athletes from the Bahamas, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, England, Greece, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, and Turkey.
This collection of outstanding performers is highlighted by 17 former Olympians and includes three returning medalists in Michigan swimmer Tom Malchow, Minnesota wrestler Garrett Lowney and Ohio State basketball player Katie Smith. Malchow will be competing in his third straight Summer Olympics after claiming a silver medal in 1996 and a gold medal in 2000. Lowney came away with a bronze in the 2000 Games while Smith was a member of the gold-medal-winning women's basketball squad that same year. Former Illini track standout Marko Koers will be taking part in his fourth straight Olympic Games for the Netherlands while Malchow, Ohio State gymnast Blaine Wilson and Penn State wrestler Kerry McCoy are each making their third straight trip. Overall, Michigan leads the way with 12 Olympic participants this year, followed by Ohio State (9), Indiana (7) and Minnesota (7).
The Big Ten will also be represented by 11 individuals serving as coaches in Athens, including a pair of head coaches in Michigan's Steve Fraser (USA wrestling) and Ohio State's Doug Beal (USA men's volleyball). This group also includes three former medal-winners as both Fraser and Beal earned gold medals in 1984 while former Iowa grappler Tom Brands (USA wrestling assistant coach) picked up a gold on the mat in 1996.
Big Ten student-athletes and coaches have been a part of the Olympic experience on more than 1,118 occasions, including many making multiple trips to the international event. That list of Conference standouts has accumulated at least 425 medals, including 191 of the gold variety. Some of the medalists include former OSU track star Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Former Indiana swimmer Mark Spitz won four medals, including two golds, in the 1968 Games before claiming an unprecedented seven gold medals during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The winter games have also been rewarding, as 12 members of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" United States hockey team were from Minnesota and Wisconsin.