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Famous Kansans » Sports » Olympic Athletes

Basketball

Bill Hougland

  • Born: June 20, 1930
  • Died: March 6, 2017
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Caldwell

Achievement:

Bill Hougland was an all-state basketball player in high school and attended the University of Kansas where he was the starting point guard on its 1952 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship team. He was a member of the United States' basketball team at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland which won a gold medal and then was team captain of the United States' basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia which also won a gold medal. He was the first basketball player in Olympic history to win two gold medals. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Hougland image
Bill Hougland
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas

Allen Kelley

  • Born: December 24, 1932
  • Died: August 13, 2016
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Dearing, raised in McCune

Achievement:

Allen Kelley was a two-time all-conference basketball player for the University of Kansas and was a member of the 1952 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship team. He played professionally for the Peoria (IL) Caterpillars and led them to the 1954 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championship and a gold medal in the 1954 World Basketball Championship. He was selected to play on the United States' basketball team that won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Allen Kelley image
Allen Kelley
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Bob Kenney

  • Born: June 23, 1931
  • Died: October 27, 2014
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Arkansas City, raised in Winfield

Achievement:

Bob Kenney was an all-conference basketball player and second team All-American for the University of Kansas and a member of the 1952 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship team. He was a member of the United States' basketball team that won a gold medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bob Kenney image
Bob Kenney
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Bill Lienhard

  • Born: January 14, 1930
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Newton

Achievement:

Bill Lienhard was an all-state basketball player in high school and went on to play at the University of Kansas where he was a member of the 1952 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national championship team. He was selected to play on the United States' basketball team that won a gold medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Lienhard image
Bill Lienhard
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Danny Manning

  • Born: May 17, 1966
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated high school in Lawrence

Achievement:

Danny Manning was a three-time All-American and National Player of the Year award winner at the University of Kansas and had a 15 year career in the National Basketball Association. He was a member of the United State's men's basketball team that won a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under College Athletes.

Danny Manning image
Danny Manning
Photo by Rich Clarkson

Ruth Riley

  • Born: August 28, 1979
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Ransom

Achievement:

Ruth Riley was a two-time All-American at the University of Notre Dame and had a productive 13 year career in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was selected to play on the United States' women's basketball team which won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

See also under College Athletes.

Ruth Riley image
Ruth Riley
Photo courtesy of Ruth Riley

Gerald Tucker

  • Born: March 14, 1922
  • Died: May 29, 1979
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Winfield

Achievement:

Gerald Tucker was a two-time All-American at the University of Oklahoma and was named national player of the year in 1947. He then played for the Phillips 66 Oilers and was a two-time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-American and also coached the Oilers to the 1955 AAU national championship. He was head coach of the United States' men's basketball team that won the gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He is a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Gerald Tucker image
Gerald Tucker
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Lynette Woodard

  • Born: August 12, 1959
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Considered one of the greatest female basketball players of all time, Lynette Woodard was a four-time All-American at the University of Kansas and was a two-time Olympian. She was selected to the United States' women's basketball team for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, Russia but did not play as the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympics. She was captain of the United States' team that won a gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. She is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under College Athletes.

Lynette Woodard image
Lynette Woodard
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Diving

Clarence Pinkston

  • Born: February 1, 1900
  • Died: November 18, 1961
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Clarence Pinkston was a two-time olympian competing in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium were he won gold medal in ten meter platform diving and a silver medal in three meter springboard diving. He then competed in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, winning a bronze medal in ten meter platform diving and a bronze medal in three meter springboard diving. He is a member of the Stanford University Hall of Fame, the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the San Diego Hall of Fame.

Clarence Pinkston image
Clarence Pinkston
Photo courtesy of the San Diego Hall of Champions

Rowing

Anna Seaton Huntington

  • Born: February 12, 1964
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka, raised in Manhattan

Achievement:

Anna Seaton Huntington began rowing competitively while attending Harvard University and would win 14 national championships and five silver medal at the Rowing World Championships. She competed for the United States in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and also in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain where she won a bronze medal in the women's pairs division. She was also a member of America3, the first all-woman team to sail for the America's Cup in 1995. She is a member of the Harvard Univeristy Athletic Hall of Fame, the National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Anna Seaton Huntington image
Anna Seaton Huntington
Photo courtesy of Manhattan High School

Shooting

Fred Etchen

  • Born: September 28, 1884
  • Died: November 6, 1961
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Coffeyville

Achievement:

Fred Etchen was one of the top trapshooters in United States history and was a 17-time Kansas champion from 1925- 1939. He helped form the Amateur Trapshooting Association and dedicated his retirement years to helping the shooting sports. He was captain of the United States' trapshooting team that won a gold medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. He is a member of the United States Trapshooting Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Fred Etchen image
Fred Etchen
Photo courtesy of Bettmann/Corbis

Margaret Murdock

  • Born: August 25, 1942
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka

Achievement:

Margaret Murdock was a pioneer in shooting sports and women's athletics. She competed on the men's rifle team and Kansas State University and won two conference titles and was the first woman at Kansas State to earn a varsity letter. She was a 28-time shooting U.S. national champion, won seven individual gold medals at the shooting world championships and set 13 world records. She competed for the United States in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada and won a silver medal in the small-bore, three-position rifle category becoming the first woman to win a medal in shooting at the Olympics. She is a member of the USA Shooting Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Margaret Murdock image
Margaret Murdock
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Swimming

Jeff Farrell

  • Born: February 28, 1937
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Wichita

Achievement:

Jeff Farrell was one of the premier swimmers in the 1950s and early 1960s and was named to every All-American team in high school, college and Amatuer Athletic Union (AAU) levels. He competed for the United States in teh 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy where he won a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100 meter medley relay team and a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay team. Both of those teams set world records. He is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Jeff Farrell image
Jeff Farrell
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Catherine Fox

  • Born: December 15, 1977
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Roeland Park

Achievement:

Catherine Fox was a 21-time All-American and nine-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at Stanford University in swimming. She was a member of the United States Olympic team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia where she won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay and a gold medal in the 4 x 100 medley relay. She is a member of the Stanford University Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Catherine Fox image
Catherine Fox
Photo courtesy of Stanford University

Caroline Bruce-McAndrew

  • Born: June 9, 1986
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Caroline Bruce-McAndrew was a 14-time state champion in high school before she attended Stanford University. At Stanford she was a five-time conference champion, two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion and a 13-time All-American. She competed for the United States in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece where she finished ninth in the 200 meter breaststroke. She is a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Caroline Bruce-McAndrew image
Caroline Bruce McAndrew
Photo courtesy of USA Swimming

Shannon Vreeland

  • Born: November 15, 1991
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Overland Park

Achievement:

Shannon Vreeland is a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at the University of Georgia and is a member of the United States National Swim Team. She competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England where she won a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay team and helped set an Olympic record in the process.

Shannon Vreeland image
Shannon Vreeland
Photo courtesy of USA Swimming

Track & Field

Thane Baker

  • Born: October 4, 1931
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Elkhart

Achievement:

Thane Baker was a four-time All-American, conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at Kansas State University and a two-time olympian. He competed for the United States track team in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where he won a silver medal in the 200 meters. He then competed in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia where he won a silver medal in the 100 meters, a bronze medal in the 200 meters and a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100 meter relay team. He is a member of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Thane Baker image
Thane Baker
Photo courtesy of the US Olympians/Paralympians Southwest Chapter

James Bausch

  • Born: March 29, 1906
  • Died: July 9, 1974
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Garden Plain

Achievement:

An all-around athlete at the University of Kansas, James Bausch competed for the United States in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California where he won a gold medal in the decathlon and set a world record in the process. Following his decathlon victory he was awarded the Sullivan Award, given to the outstanding amateur athlete in America each year. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

See also under College Athletes.

James Bausch image
James Bausch
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas

Glenn Cunningham

  • Born: August 4, 1909
  • Died: March 10, 1988
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Atlanta, raised in Elkhart

Achievement:

Nicknamed the "Kansas Flyer," Glenn Cunningham came very close to never having the amazing running career that he had when an accident involving a fire nearly cost him the use of his legs as a child. He learned how to walk and run again and eventually had a prolific career at the University of Kansas where he won six conference titles, two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) titles and ten Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles. He competed in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California where he finished fourth in the 1500 meters. He was awarded the Sullivan Award in 1933, given annually to the top amateur athlete in America. He then competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany and won a silver medal in the 1500 meters. Between 1934 and 1938 he set world records in the 800 meter run and the mile run. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Glenn Cunningham image
Glenn Cunningham
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Ira Davenport

  • Born: October 13, 1887
  • Died: July 17, 1941
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Winfield

Achievement:

Ira Davenport competed for the United States during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He competed in the 400 meters and the 800 meters in which he won the bronze medal

Ira Davenport image
Ira Davenport
Photo courtesy of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Maurice Greene

  • Born: July 23, 1974
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City

Achievement:

Maurice Greene was once tabbed as the world's fastest man and was a member of two United State Olympic teams. He was a five-time world champion and set world records in the 100 meters and 60 meters in 1999, the only person to hold both at the same time. He competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia winning gold medals in the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 meter relay. He then competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece winning a bronze medal in the 100 meters and a silver medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay. He is a member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Maurice Greene image
Maurice Greene
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

John Kuck

  • Born: April 30, 1905
  • Died: September 21, 1986
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wilson

Achievement:

John Kuck was one of the world's great track and field athletes of the 1920s and set over 100 records. At Wilson High School he set national high school records in the shot put, discus and javelin events and at Emporia State University he was the 1926 national collegiate champion and world record holder in both the shot put and javelin. He competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, Netherlands where he won a gold medal in the shot put and also set a new world record. He is a member of the Emporia State Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

John Kuck image
John Kuck
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Harold Manning

  • Born: January 9, 1909
  • Died: January 26, 2003
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Sedgwick

Achievement:

Harold Manning was the state and national champion in the mile run in 1927 and then would be the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national champion in the two-mile run becoming Wichita State University's first national champion and first track and field All-American. He competed for the United States in 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he placed fifth in the 3000 meter steeplechase. He is a member of the Wichita State University Sports Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Harold Manning image
Harold Manning
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame

Billy Mills

  • Born: June 30, 1938
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Lived in Lawrence, graduated from the Haskell Institute

Achievement:

Billy Mills was a three-time state high school cross country champion in high school and was a three-time conference champion and three-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-American at the University of Kansas. He competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and staged one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history by winning a gold medal in the 10,000 meter run. By winning he became the second Native American to win a gold medal and is the only American runner to win the 10,000 meters. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Mills image
Billy Mills
Photo by the Associated Press

Fay Moulton

  • Born: April 7, 1876
  • Died: February 19, 1945
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Marion

Achievement:

Fay Moulton competed in two olympic games as a member of the United State's team. In the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, he competed in the 60 meters where he won a bronze medal and also in the 100 and 200 meters where he placed fourth in each. During the 1906 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, he competed in teh 100 meters where he won a silver medal and the 400 meters where he finished sixth. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Fay Moulton image
Fay Moulton
Photo courtesy of Athletics in History

Bill Nieder

  • Born: August 10, 1933
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Lawrence

Achievement:

Bill Nieder was a world-class shot putter in the 1950s and 1960s, was a two-time olympian and held the shot put world record on three different occasions. He was the first high schooler to put a 12-pound shot over 60 feet and while at the University of Kansas he won five conference titles and was the first collegiate athlete to put a 16-pound shot over 60 feet. He competed for the United States in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia where he won a silver medal in the shot put and competed in teh 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy where he won a gold medal in the shot put. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Nieder image
Bill Nieder
Photo courtesy of Corbis Images

Jim Ryun

  • Born: April 29, 1947
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Jim Ryun was one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all-time and was a three-time Olympian for the United States. He made a name for himself in 1964 when he became the first high school runner to run a mile race in under four minutes. He competed in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico where he won a silver medal in the 1,500 meters and the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. He set five world records between 1966 and 1971, was named the youngest recipient of Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year award and was awarded the Sullivan Award in 1966, given annually to the top amateur athlete in America. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and was named Kansan of the Year in 1966 by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas.

Jim Ryun image
Jim Ryun
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Archie San Romani

  • Born: September 17, 1912
  • Died: November 7, 1994
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Frontenac

Achievement:

Archie San Romani was one of the great American milers of the 1930s and was National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion in the mile in 1935 and 1936 while he attended Emporia State University. He competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany where he finished fourth in the 1500 meters. A year later he set a world record in the 2000 meters. He is a member of the Emporia State University Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Archie San Romani image
Archie San Romani
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Wes Santee

  • Born: March 25, 1932
  • Died: November 14, 2010
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Ashland

Achievement:

Nicknamed the "Ashland Antelope," Wes Santee was one of the greatest distance runners of the 1950s and vying to become the first to run a sub-four-minute mile. He set high school records in the mile run and attended the University of Kansas where he set records in Cross Country and the mile and two-mile events. He was the individual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Cross Country Champion in 1953 and led KU to the overall championship. He competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where he ran in the 5,000 meters but did not medal. In 1955, a dispute over his amateur status by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) led to him being barred from competing in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Wes Santee image
Wes Santee
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas's Spencer Research Library

Weightlifting

Tara Cunningham

  • Born: May 10, 1972
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Stilwell

Achievement:

Tara Cunningham was a two-time olympian and the only athlete to have trained for three different sports at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Austalia and won a gold medal in the women's 48-kilogram class, the first U.S. athlete to win gold in weightlifting since 1960. She also competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece and held the U.S. weightlifting record in two different classes. She is a member of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Tara Cunningham image
Tara Cunningham
Photo by Tony Lewis / ALLSPORT

Wrestling

Melvin Douglas

  • Born: August 21, 1963
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka

Achievement:

Melvin Douglas was one of the United States' greatest freestyle wresters in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a three-time high school state champion, USA Junior Freestyle national champion and was a two-time conference and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion at the University of Oklahoma. He was a seven-time USA Senior Freestly national champion and won the world championship in 1993. He competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, finishing seventh, and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. He is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Melvin Douglas image
Melvin Douglas
Photo courtesy of The Wichita Eagle

Pete Mehringer

  • Born: July 15, 1910
  • Died: August 27, 1987
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kinsley

Achievement:

Nicknamed the "Kansas Whirlwind," Pete Mehringer taught himself how to wrestle via a correspondence course and became a two-time state high school wrestling champion. He attended the University of Kansas and won three conference wrestling championships and in 1932 was National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national runner-up and an All-American. He competed in the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California and won a gold medal in wrestling in the 192 pound weight class. He returned to KU and won all-conference honors in football and played in the first college all-star football game in 1934. He then played professional football with the Chicago Cardinals and Los Angeles Bulldogs. He is a member of the KU Athletics Hall of Fame, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Pete Mehringer image
Pete Mehringer
Photo courtesy of the University of Kansas