The Olympic Games are one of the oldest and proudest athletic competitions in the world. Every two years, for two weeks, the most talented athletes worldwide play in the Games. The extremely popular competition actually began in the 8th century BCE in Greece. It was seen as an honor and privilege to be able to participate in the games and this tradition holds true today, after the games were reintroduced to the world in 1896.
There are particular universities and colleges that have produced a large number of Olympians over the years. And further still, there are certain institutions who have taught a number of Olympic medalists as well, winning dozens of medals in diving, swimming, and track and field. These schools have training facilities that are state-of-the-art, have excellent coaches, and very large athletic programs. Sport is more than an extracurricular activity for these young men and women!
Below are three United States colleges and universities, highlighted for having contributed the most to modern Olympic history.
University of Southern California (USC)
USC is the most dominant of the United States universities with the most gold medals and the most medals overall. Coming in at 288 medals, USC athletes have been awarded with 135 gold medals, 88 silver medals, and 65 bronze medals. At the 2016 Summer Olympics alone, USC athletes and alumni scored 21 medals; 9 gold, 5 silver, and 7 bronze.
Especially strong in summer events like track and field and swimming, USC athletes have earned at least one gold medal in each Summer Olympics since the 1912 Stockholm games. Alum Allyson Felix won two gold medals and one silver at the Rio games, becoming the most decorated female track and field athlete.
Winning only 8 fewer medals than USC, Stanford athletes have won a total of 280 medals. A 2016 Summer Olympics record was set by Stanford athletes as they collected the top gold medal count of all United States schools with 27 medals. The breakdown of those medals include 14 gold medals, as well as 7 silver, and 6 bronze.
Their legacy involves mostly diving, swimming, and track and field sporting events. In 1988 and 1992, talented swimmer Janet Evans won four gold medals, shattering several records. In 2016, one of the world’s fastest swimmers, Katie Ledecky, won four gold medals and one silver. Katie was joined by swimmer Simone Manuel in celebration, as Simone became the first African-American woman to earn an individual gold medal in swimming. Stanford athletes have also earned medals in rowing, fencing, and men’s volleyball.
University of California in Los Angeles
UCLA has won a total of 224 medals through the years. Athletes with UCLA training have secured 117 gold medals, 53 silver medals, and 54 bronze medals. There were also 9 total medals won at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games; 6 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. The six gold medals were all won by the women’s team in water polo – a truly amazing accomplishment.
The two best female athletes ever in track and field competed for UCLA. Florence Joyner-Griffith – adoringly known as Flo-Jo – won five medals in her Olympic career, and her records in the 200m and 100m races are still unbroken to this day. Jackie Joyner-Kersee earned gold in the heptathlon and accrued a record 7,291 points. Michelle Kwan, also a former UCLA athlete, is the most decorated Olympian in female figure skating history.