USC’s Olympic Heritage
USC’s participation in the Olympics dates back to 1904, when Emil Breitkreutz’06 traveled to St. Louis, becoming the first USC student to compete in the Olympic Games. Breitkreutz took home a bronze medal in the 800-meter run — marking the beginning of a Trojan Olympic legacy that today is unrivaled.
Since then, USC has produced more Olympians, overall medalists and gold medalists than any other university in the United States.
USC’s star-studded Olympic roster includes 418 Trojans who attended the university before, during or after their Olympic appearances. These athletes have represented 60 countries and participated in 28 different sports, ranging from those generally associated with USC, such as track and swimming, to more unusual sports, such as team handball, canoeing and bobsled. While Trojans traditionally have found their place in the sun during the Summer Olympics, USC athletes also have competed in the Winter Olympics nine times.
All told, USC’s Olympians have won 587 places on Olympic teams, and have taken home 135 gold medals, 87 silver and 65 bronze.
If USC were a country entering its athletes in the Olympic Games, its 287 all-time Summer Olympics medals would place it 16th among all participating countries. And in six different Olympics, USC’s medal count would have positioned it among the top 10 competing nations.
Equally impressive is USC’s history of winning Olympic gold. Ever since USC’s first gold medalist, freshman Fred Kelly ’16, earned the gold in the 110-meter high hurdles in Stockholm in 1912, Trojan athletes have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympics. This includes the U.S.-boycotted 1980 Moscow games, when swimmer Michelle Ford ’84, competing for her native Australia, captured the gold in the 800-meter freestyle.
Again, if USC were a country, its 135 gold medals would rank it 12th in Olympic history — and its gold-medal counts have placed it among the top 10 nations in 15 different Olympic Games.
USC’s Olympic heritage includes six Trojans who have been inducted into in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame — Janet Evans ’95 (swimming), Sammy Lee MD ’47 (diving), John Naber ’77 (swimming), Parry O’Brien ’54 (track and field), Charles “Charley” Paddock ’23 (track and field) and Frank Wykoff ’33 (track and field) — as well as hundreds more who have brought gold and honor to their countries and their university.
Trojan Athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London
- USC at the London Olympics: Articles from USC News.
- USC London Summer Olympics Central: Explore USC Athletics’ Olympic viewing guide.
- 2012 USC Olympic Spotlights on the USC Athletics Ripsit Blog: Read about Olympic athletes (great photos) and qualifying trials.
- USC at the Olympics on Pinterest.
- Since 1904, USC Medal Count on the Rise at Summer Olympics: NBC news story about USC’s Olympic tradition.