Texas is larger, geographically speaking, than over 150 of the countries participating in this summer’s Olympic Games. For that matter, the population of North Central Texas, at 7 million-plus, exceeds that of more than 100 Olympic nations. So, as you might expect, the region has produced its share of Olympic athletes. We offer a representative sampling, both current and historical, to give you some perspective on what the area has contributed to the world’s premier multi-sport athletic competition.
Starting life here isn’t a bad route to the Olympics. Here are a few competitors born in the metroplex.
-Lanny Bassham went to the University of Texas-Arlington and was born in Comanche, Texas. He took a silver medal in shooting in the 1972 Munich Games and won gold in Montreal in 1976.
-Michael Carter of Dallas and SMU won silver in 1984 in the shot put and went on to a successful NFL career.
-Michelle Carter won four state shot put titles at Red Oak High School and is competing in her second Games in Rio, She’s also the daughter of the other Carter on our list.
-Claire Donahue was born in Dallas and the butterfly swimmer earned gold for her role in the 4x100m medley relay in London in 2012.
-Jackie Galloway was born in Wylie and attends SMU. She has dual citizenship and was a 2012 alternate on Mexico’s taekwondo team. Galloway is competing for Team USA in Brazil.
-Ricky Grace was born in Dallas, but played basketball as a naturalized Australian in 2000.
-His father Calvin played for the Cowboys when Grant Hill was born in Dallas in 1972. Grant’s sport was basketball and he won gold in it with the USA in 1996.
-Fort Worth North Side’s Darrow Hooper garnered a silver medal in shot put in the 1952 Helsinki Games.
-Michael Johnson runs a high-performance training center in McKinney. The Dallas-born sprinter ran his way to four gold medals over three Olympics.
-Madison Kocian of Dallas is a big Rangers fan and part of the powerhouse U.S. gymnastics team in Rio that took home the Gold medal. She snagged Silver in Women's Uneven Bars as well.
-Colleyville’s Stephen Lambdin is making his Olympic taekwondo debut at the 2016 Games.
-There’s a Grand Prairie park named after Arlington native Jennifer McFalls, who won softball gold in 2000.
-Area native Katie Meili went to Nolan High School in Fort Worth. She won a swimming bronze in the 100m breaststroke and Gold in the 4x100m medley relay in Rio.
-Equestrian athlete Clark Montgomery hails from Mineral Wells and honored the area’s tradition of horsemanship as he competed in eventing in Brazil.
APHA Youth World Championships at Will Rogers Memorial Center, Eventing
-Courtney Okolo of Carrollton will sprint for Team USA in this year’s track and field competition.
-Sergio Reyes boxed his way from Fort Worth to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
-Louise Ritter from Red Oak and Texas Women's University competed in three Olympiads. The high jumper won a gold medal in 1988.
-Fort Worth Paschal’s Jack Robinson won gold in the second-ever Olympic basketball tournament in 1948.
-Pole vaulter Guinn Smith of McKinney took gold in the 1948 Games in London.
-Stacy Sykora from Burleson H.S. played volleyball for the U.S. in three Olympic Games.
-Chrishuna Williams will run the 800 meters in Rio. She was born in Dallas and attended DeSoto High.
-Deron Williams played basketball at The Colony High School before winning gold in the sport with Team USA in Beijing in 2008.
-Gymnast Rowland Wolfe was born in Dallas and went to Woodrow Wilson High School. He was a gold medalist in men’s tumbling in Los Angeles in 1932.
-Lance Armstrong of Plano brought home a bronze medal in the time trial in his third Olympics in 2000, though he later returned it amid the doping issues that derailed his cycling career.
Naturalized North Texans/Collegians
Plenty of folks have come to North Texas to train or attend school (or both). The local universities tend to be well-represented, with TCU and SMU having been especially prolific producers of Olympians.
-Tamika Catchings of Duncanville High will shoot for her fourth basketball gold in Rio.
-Tervel Dlagnev will compete in the Rio Olympics’ freestyle wrestling competition in the 125kg weight class after having finished tied for fifth in 2012. Born in Bulgaria, he attended Arlington High School and competes internationally for Team USA.
-U.S. Army veteran Vincent Hancock lives in Fort Worth and attempted to be the first person to win three consecutive skeet shooting gold medals in Rio.
-Texas Wesleyan graduate Mark Hazinski competed for the United States in men’s table tennis doubles in 2004.
-Nastia Liukin was born in Russia, but was competing out of Plano as she trained to win a gold, three silvers, and a bronze for Team USA in 2008.
-Steve Lundquist from SMU was 1984 double gold medalist in swimming for the United States.
-Earle Meadows was born in Mississippi, but he won the Fort Worth city pole vaulting championship four years in a row after he relocated. He took gold in the discipline in 1936 in Berlin.
-Martina Moravcová from SMU earned two silver medals over five Olympics for Czechoslovakia and Slovakia. She still lives in Dallas.
-Gymnast Carly Patterson graduated from Texas Women’s University and lives in Allen. She won gold in the individual all-around in 2004 in Athens.
-Jasna Rather is the Texas Wesleyan table tennis co-ed team coach. She’s competed in four Olympics, two with Yugoslavia and two with Team USA. She won a bronze in 1988 in doubles for Yugoslavia.
-Doug Russell was born in New York City, raised in Midland, and swam collegiately at UTA. He won two gold medals swimming the butterfly stroke in 1968 in Mexico City.
-Sarah Scherer attended Texas Christian University. She finished 8th in air rifle for Team USA in Rio after making her second straight Olympic team.
-TCU’s Raymond Stewart won a silver medal on Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team in 1984. He competed in four Olympics, though he was later implicated in an HGH doping scandal.
-Multiple gold medal winner Dana Vollmer was born in New York, but raised in Granbury. The swimmer has already made it back to the medal stand in Brazil for Gold in Women's 4x100m medley relay, Silver in Women's 4x100m freestyle relay and Bronze in Women's 100m butterfly.
A number of athletes have played for area pro teams and competed in the Olympics, too.
Yes, we know American football isn’t an Olympic sport. But some Cowboys have represented their home nations in other sports. In addition to these summertime athletes, former running back Herschel Walker competed in the bobsled during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
Bob Hayes is not only a Cowboys Ring of Honor member, he won two golds sprinting in Tokyo in 1964. He remains the only athlete to have won a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal.
Lawrence Okoye is in camp trying to earn a Cowboys roster spot this year. In 2012, he made the Great Britain Olympic squad and finished 12th in the discus in London.
Australian Colin Ridgeway punted briefly for the Cowboys in 1965 after having competed as a high jumper in the 1956 Melbourne Games.
The global ties of General Manager Donnie Nelson (a former Olympic assistant coach for Lithuania and China) have ensured an international roster in Dallas. Current or former Mavs have hooped for the national teams of Australia, Brazil Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britan, Nigeria, Serbia & Montenegro, Spain, the USA, and Yugoslavia. Stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and Adrian Dantley made it. So did lesser-known (in this country, at least) names like Uwe Blab, Wang Zhizhi, João Vianna, Tom LaGarde, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Al-Farouq Ajiede Aminu (2012) and Josh Akognon (2016) were the Nigerian representatives. Off-season signees Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, and Nicolas Brussino will play in Rio for Team USA, Australia, and Argentina, respectively, before joining the Mavericks for training camp.
Erin Phillips plays hoops for the Dallas Wings and is competing for her native Australia in Rio. Her teammates Odyssey Sims (Irving MacArthur) and Aerial Powers were on the select squad that played practice games against Team USA.
Baseball will return to the Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo and perhaps Yu Darvish will have a chance to make his second Games appearance at home for his native Japan. Former Ranger Koji Uehara also pitched for the Japanese team and three former Rangers (Rob Ducey, Aaron Myette, and Matt Stairs) have played for Team Canada. Rikkert Faneyte represented the Netherlands twice. Several prominent Rangers have performed for Team USA, including the likes of Will Clark, R.A. Dickey, Tom Goodwin, Rick Helling, Phil Nevin, and Bobby Witt.