Big Ten Totals 30 Medals, Including 16 Golds, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing
Aug. 29, 2008
The Big Ten Conference brought home a total of 30 medals, which included 16 gold, five silver and nine bronze at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Nearly 100 former and current student-athletes and coaches participated in this year’s games which spanned from August 8-24. The group of Big Ten competitors consisted of 11 repeat Olympians and five returning medalists that represented 28 different countries and 10 Big Ten institutions in 17 different sports.
Michigan boasted the most medals with 12 and also the most golds with nine. Former volunteer assistant coach Michael Phelps claimed eight of those gold medals as he now registers as the only person in Olympic history to stand atop the podium eight times in one Olympic year. His first-place performances include the 400-meter individual medley, 4x100 freestyle relay, 200 freestyle, 200 butterfly, 4x200 freestyle relay, 200 medley, 100 butterfly and 4x100 medley relay. Phelps set world records in seven of the eight races, bringing his career Olympic medal count to 16, including 14 golds.
Another former Wolverine, Peter Vanderkaay, joined Phelps in winning gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay and also brought home an individual bronze medal in the 200 freestyle. Former Michigan student-athlete Betsy Armstrong commanded the USA women’s water polo team to a silver medal. Rounding out the Michigan medal contingent, Nick Willis captured bronze in the men’s 1,500-meter run for New Zealand.
Ohio State racked up six overall medals, bringing home two of each color. Former Buckeye basketball stars Michael Redd and Katie Smith each contributed to Team USA’s success on the court to collect the gold medal for their respective men’s and women’s squads. The two silvers came in fencing with Jason Rodgers competing in team saber and Hannah Thompson participating in team foil. Bronze medalists include Raj Bhavsar in USA team gymnastics and Bryan Volpenhein in the men’s eight rowing competition.
Northwestern tallied three medals from four-time NCAA swim champion Matt Grevers. The former Wildcat swam on the preliminary 4x100 medley relay and 4x100 freestyle relay teams, earning two gold medals. Grevers also collected a silver medal in the 100 backstroke.
Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota each received two Olympic medals, including one gold each.
Illinois’ gold medal came from former hoops star Deron Williams as he contributed to Team USA’s undefeated Olympic run. Former Illini gymnast Justin Spring shared in the bronze-medal success of Team USA men’s gymnastics.
Indiana alum David Neville garnered both Hoosier medals in Beijing. The Merrillville, Ind., native captured gold on the USA 4x400 relay squad in a new Olympic record time. Neville also took bronze in the open 400-meter dash as he dove across the finish line to gain the last medal spot.
Minnesota’s gold hardware came from the Czech Republic’s Barbora Spotkova as she topped the field in the women’s javelin throw. Lindsey Berg, formerly of the Gophers’ volleyball team, aided Team USA to the squad’s first silver medal since 1984.
Penn State and Wisconsin each produced bronze-medal performers as former Nittany Lion Kevin Tan took part in the men’s gymnastics team competition and Wisconsin alums Micah Boyd and Beau Hoopman rowed in the men’s eight competition.
Big Ten student-athletes and coaches have been a part of the Olympic experience on more than 1,217 occasions, including many making multiple trips to the international event. That list of conference standouts has accumulated at least 453 medals, including 212 gold.
To view the complete list of the 2008 Big Ten Olympians, please click the .PDF link above.