Track and field athletes have become celebrities over the past four decades, thanks in part to Bruce Jenner's superstar status after winning the decathlon in 1976.
Jenner is an American, but other track athletes have become minor celebrities in a news cycle that makes instant stars out of athletes who make provocative news headlines, even if they don't win gold medals.
1) Oscar Pistorius: South Africa's Oscar Pistorius failed to reach the finals in the 400-meter dash when he finished last in his semifinal heat. The New York Times reports Pistorius, who is a double amputee below the knee, came a long way after the IAAF banned him from the 2008 games, despite qualifying from his home country. Pistorius was deemed to have an unfair physical advantage due to his prosthetic legs.
2) Michael Johnson: Michael Johnson of the United States had golden shoes. Johnson's track shoes had five grams of gold woven into the fabric before they were painted bright gold. Johnson lived up to his reputation in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The American became the first, and thus far only, athlete to win the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes at the same Olympics.
3) Lolo Jones: Lolo Jones is one of those athletes receiving attention for her looks as opposed to her talent. the New York Times was recently criticized for running a story on her. In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine, and has little chance of winning a medal. However, in the 2012 Summer Olympics, the beauty has received more than her fair share of attention because of gorgeous looks.
4) Bruce Jenner: The decathlon is one of the hardest track and field events since athletes must do well enough in 10 events to win. Bruce Jenner won the event in 1976 in Montreal as the first decathlete to earn more than 8,500 points. Since then, the Biography Channel states Jenner has been a motivational speaker and patriarch of the reality television family in "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."
5) Tatiana Grigorieva: An Australian pole vaulter rarely gets confused with a bombshell model. However, nude pictures of Tatiana Grigorieva may have left celebrity watchers confused. Another famous woman with the same last name was once Mel Gibson's lover. Oksana Grigorieva is the celebrity dater. Tatiana Grigorieva is the silver medalist and former "Dancing with the Stars" competitor.
6) Amy Acuff: American high jumper Amy Acuff hasn't won an Olympic medal. Yet she has multiple NCAA and USA Outdoor championships to her name. Acuff qualified for her fifth Olympics in London after posing for pictures in Maxim and making the cover of Playboy magazine.
7) Caster Semenya: South African Caster Semenya is competing in her first Olympics in 2012 in London. Just three years ago, Semenya underwent examinations questioning her status as a female athlete. The woman was deemed a hermaphrodite, meaning she has both male and female parts. The Telegraph reports the track athlete will finally get her chance to win an Olympic medal this year. She is scheduled to run in the 800-meter dash.
8) Abebe Bikila: Marathon runners are one of the most celebrated athletes of the Summer Olympics. Abebe Bikila was an Ethiopian marathoner who won back-to-back gold medals in 1960 and 1964. The Guardian reported Bikila did the impossible by running barefoot the entire 26-plus miles in Rome on the way to his first gold medal. Bikila became the first black African to win a gold medal. Even better, the Ethiopian earned his title on Italian soil. Italy conquered the African nation before World War II.
9) Ben Johnson: Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won the 100-meter dash in world-record fashion at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Three days later, he tested positive for steroids. BBC News states Johnson was banned from running track for life by the IAAF in March 1993 for a second positive test.
10) Marion Jones: American athlete Marion Jones admitted to using steroids and lying to investigators in October 2007. Jones returned all of her medals and retired from running track events seven years after winning gold at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, according to NPR. Since then, Jones tried to play professional basketball for the Tulsa Shock. Reuters reported she was on the team less than two seasons, when she was released in 2011.
William Browning has been a fan of the Summer Olympics since the games of 1984 in Los Angeles.
- Sports & Recreation
- Athletics, Track & Field
- Oscar Pistorius
- Bruce Jenner
- Lolo Jones
- Tatiana Grigorieva
- Michael Johnson