Utah enjoys a rich history in the Winter Olympics. The Beehive state has produced dozens of athletes who have won Olympic medals and Salt Lake City played host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. Still, Utah's impact on the Olympic Games has not been limited to the winter sports. Several notable Utah athletes have made a mark at the Summer Olympics going back a century.
These five Utah athletes have made a name for themselves at the Summer Olympics through the years:
1. Cael Sanderson: No other wrestler can lay claim to enjoying as dominant of a career as Sanderson. The current Penn State wrestling coach first made a name for himself winning wrestling championships at Wasatach High School in Heber City, Utah. Sanderson went on to wrestle at Iowa State and posted an NCAA record that still stands. During his four year career with the Cyclones, Sanderson went 159-0 in his NCAA matches and is the only undefeated four-time national champion in NCAA history. It is only fitting that Sanderson capped off his career with a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He won in the 84kg. category .
2. Logan Tom: No gold medal yet for Tom, but it could only be a matter of time. She is one of the more accomplished players on the U.S. women's volleyball team. Tom was the leading scorer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and helped her team win a silver medal. During her high school career at Highland High in Salt Lake City, Tom set state records for career kills and service aces. She later took her talents to Stanford and led the Cardinal to the 2001 NCAA title as a junior. Tom led Stanford in career kills and finished second in career service aces. She has made four Olympic appearances, starting with her debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
3. Blaine Lindgren: Lindgren played a part in one of the more bizarre finishes in Olympic history. He competed in the 110 meter hurdles at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Lindgren crossed the finish line first in the 110 hurdles final and seemingly won the gold medal, but he leaned too soon and slipped under the tape. The Olympics rule book at the time awarded victory to the athlete who broke the tape. U.S. teammate Hayes Jones broke the tape before Lindgren and won gold, despite crossing the finish line second. The rule forced Lindgren to settle for a silver medal.
4. Alma Richards: Utah's first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal was Richards. He competed at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and won a gold medal in men's high jump. Richards also set an Olympic record at the time. He turned his attention to the decathlon after becoming the 1913 AAU High Jump Champion. He won the 1915 AAU title in the decathlon and would have been a gold medal favorite going into the 1916 Berlin Olympics. Those games were never held, however, because of World War I, and Richards retired from Olympic competition.
5. Denise Parker: At 14 years old, Parker made a fantastic Olympic debut. The Salt Lake City resident helped Team USA claim a bronze medal in women's archery at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It remains the only team Olympic medal for the United States in women's archery. Parker returned to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and made a comeback to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She is now the CEO of USA Archery.
There are many more successful Summer Olympic athletes who have come out of Utah besides these five medal winners -- including Courtney Johnson, who was a member of the U.S. women's water polo team, to win a silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. At the 2012 London Olympics alone, Jake Gibb (men's volleyball), Arielle Martin (cycling) and Shalaya Kipp (women's track and field) join Tom as athletes who hail from Utah.John Coon has covered several Olympic sports as a sports reporter in Salt Lake City. He considers the Summer Olympics to be one of his favorite sporting events.
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