Big Ten Earns Eight Medals, Including Five Golds, in 2004 Olympic Games in Athens

Wisconsin's Carly Piper (standing far left) and the gold-medal winning 800-meter freestyle relay team after setting the world record at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens

Wisconsin's Carly Piper (standing far left) and the gold-medal winning 800-meter freestyle relay team after setting the world record at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens

PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference brought home a total of eight medals after capturing five golds, two silvers and a bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. At least 68 Conference athletes and coaches competed at this year's Summer Games, which took place from August 13-29. The group of League competitors, which included 21 former Olympians and six past medalists, represented 15 different countries and all 11 Big Ten institutions in 14 different sports.

Both Michigan and Wisconsin boasted two gold medalists each, as Wolverine swimmers Dan Ketchum and Peter Vanderkaay, and Badgers' swimmer Carly Piper and men's rower Beau Hoopman claimed first in their respective events. Ohio State's Katie Smith donned her second-straight gold medal as a member of the USA women's basketball team.

Piper joined her teammates on the podium in the 800-meter freestyle relay after capturing gold with a world record time of 7:53.42. A UW senior-to-be, Piper set the bar high for future Badger Olympians as she was the first female Badger swimmer ever to compete in the Olympics. Ketchum and Vanderkaay captured gold in the same event. Vanderkaay swam the third leg of the gold-medal relay team that won in a time of 7:07.33, while Ketchum competed during the preliminary heat.

Hoopman helped the United States rowing team to its first gold medal in the Olympic men's eight in 40 years. Sitting seven seat, the 2003 UW graduate helped guide the boat during the preliminary heat in a world-record time of 5:19.85 over 2,000 meters. The U.S. won the event in 5:42.48, after fighting off a steady headwind and a Netherlands team the Americans beat by four seats.

For the second-consecutive Olympics, the Buckeyes' Smith won gold on the basketball court. The U.S. claimed a 74-63 victory over rival and previously unbeaten Australia in the gold-medal game, but was without the services of Smith, who tore cartilage in her right knee during the August 22 game against China.

Capturing the silver medal for the United States were former Buckeye Blaine Wilson, a member of the runner-up USA men's gymnastics squad, and Michigan's Kate Johnson in women's rowing. Ohio State's Becky Jasontek collected a bronze medal as a member of the women's synchronized swimming team.

Also contributing to the list of medal winners were current and former Michigan men's swimming coaches Bob Bowman and Jon Urbancheck.

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