Missouri isn't exactly known for its top athletes. While not as glamorous as athletes from New York, Florida or California, the Show-Me State has an impressive list of Summer Olympians with ties to Missouri.
Several current Olympians are in London representing the United States from Missouri. Christian Cantwell from Eldon won silver in the shotput in Beijing four years ago. He is back this year. Maurice Mitchell is a sprinter from Raytown who qualified in the 200-meter dash after winning consecutive national titles at Florida State. Matt Tegenkamp from Lee's Summit runs in the 10,000 meters Aug. 4, according to the Kansas City Star.
The current flock of Missouri athletes have local success stories from the past to emulate.
Anyone who loves track and field knows the name Jackson Scholz. Scholz won gold and set a world record at the 1920 games in Antwerp as part of the men's 4x100 meter relay team. Four years later in Paris, he won a silver in the 100-meter dash. Scholz added a gold and an Olympic record in the 200-meter dash in Paris. As for his fame, the athlete was portrayed as a lead character in the film "Chariots of Fire." Scholz was born in Michigan but ran for the University of Missouri in Columbia as an amateur.
Boxer Leon Spinks was born in St. Louis in 1953. He won a gold medal, along with his brother Michael, at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Spinks would go on to defeat Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship of the world in 1978. Spinks' reign as the top boxer lasted seven months before Ali won the title back in a rematch.
Lori Endicott attended Willard High School just outside Springfield, Mo. She went on to play volleyball for the University of Nebraska. Endicott's claim to fame was helping Team USA bring home the bronze medal in volleyball at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She was also part of the 1996 team that wound up seventh in Atlanta.
Jason Pyrah runs professionally in Japan. Yet the Springfield native did well enough to earn a 10th place finish at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Pyrah's specialty is middle distance as he came tantalizing close to a medal in the men's 1,500 meter run a dozen years ago.
Helen Stephens was one of the most decorated female track athletes in state history. Her track career lasted just 30 months, including two gold medals for the United States at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Stephens won the 100 meter dash and was part of the 4x100 meter relay team. The young woman was undefeated in her track career, placing her in elite company. Stephens was born in Fulton, Mo., and retired to the St. Louis area after serving as a track coach at her alma mater, William Woods University.
All statistical sources are from Sports-Reference.com.
William Browning has been a fan of the Summer Olympics since the games of 1984 in Los Angeles. He was born in St. Louis and currently resides in Branson, Mo.