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Rulers of the Olympics
Rulers of the Olympics
Rulers of the Olympics

Rulers of the Olympics

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12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.

This ruler lists Americans who have had particular success at the Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter. There are of course many great American Olympians, so we had to make some choices.

An interesting figure is Johnny Weissmuller, who won 5 gold medals in swimming and a bronze medal in water polo at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris and the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. Weissmuller came to the United States as an immigrant at the tender age of 7 months. When he was 9 years old, he contracted polio, and took up swimming to help combat the disease. After retiring from swimming, he played the role of Tarzan in 12 feature films, and was the first actor to be associated with the now traditional yodeling Tarzan yell.

Muhammad Ali was not yet using that name when he won boxing gold in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, and didn’t change his name until 1964.

For 36 years Mark Spitz could claim to have won more gold medals at a single Olympics than any other Olympian. He won 7 at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Spitz was surpassed in 2008 by fellow American Michael Phelps, who won 8 gold medals at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The dates listed are the years of each athlete’s first and last Olympic games, if they competed in more than one. We have furthermore identified each one with the sport in which they excelled.

The “head” image is of Jesse Owens, one of the all-time greats, who won 4 gold medals in track & field at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. These games in Nazi Germany were meant to support Hitler’s belief that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race, but Owens single-handedly debunked that myth. Our illustration is based on a photograph of Owens. In the original he is wearing an Ohio State tank top.

If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Rulers of Baseball, Rulers of Football, or Great Women Rulers of Sports.