Take a look at the top 10 Summer Olympians who have ties to Washington, and explore all the Washington athletes who have competed in the Olympics in the searchable and sortable table below.
Washington has a long history of Olympic success, dating to Ira Courtney, a University of Washington student who competed in the 1912 Summer Games. Since then, more than 400 other athletes with ties to Washington have competed in either the Summer or Winter Olympics.
Below, explore a table that includes all the athletes with ties to Washington who have competed in the modern Olympic Games since 1896. Sort by categories like number of gold medals, or search for individual athletes or sports to learn more about the history of Washington in the Olympics.
Many of these Washington athletes have been incredibly successful, but some have done better than others. Here’s a look back at the top 10 Summer Olympians with ties to Washington.
Lloyd Spooner: Spooner may not be as much of a household name as many of the others on this list, but his performance in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp in shooting nonetheless stands out as one of the greatest of all time. Spooner won seven medals that year, including four gold, one silver and two bronze. The seven medals tied him with teammate Willis Lee as an Olympic record that would stand for 60 years. The Tacoma native spent much of his life in the army, and the four gold medals he won are still more than any other Washington athlete.
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Boys in the Boat: While Spooner is relatively anonymous, the famed Boys in the Boat are certainly not. The men’s eight rowing team from the University Washington represented the United States at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and pulled out a narrow victory over the Italians and Germans. The triumph has since been immortalized in a book by Daniel James Brown, and more recently in a PBS documentary. The team consisted of Herbert Morris, Charles Day, Gordon Adam, John White, James McMillin, George Hunt, Joseph Rantz, Donald Hume and Robert Moch.
Jack Medica: The 1936 Olympics had more than just rowers representing Washington, though. Jack Medica, a University of Washington swimmer who dominated at the NCAA championships, captured a gold medal and two silver medals at the Berlin Olympics. He won the 400-meter freestyle, setting and Olympic record in the process, and came in second in the 1,500-meter freestyle. On top of that, he also helped lead the United State 4×200 meter freestyle relay team to a silver medal, capping off an impressive performance.
Rusty Wailes: Washington has a long history of rowing success, and Rusty Wailes was a key part of that in the middle of the 20th century. The Seattle native won his first gold medal as part of the U.S. eights in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, and followed that up four years later with another gold in the men’s four. Winning one gold medal in rowing is hard enough, but winning another four years later is exceedingly difficult, especially in a different event.
Kaye Hall: Kaye Hall burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The Tacoma native started things off by winning the 100-meter backstroke with a world-record swim, avenging a second-place finish in the Pan-American games the year before. She followed that up by adding a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke, and swam the backstroke leg of the 4×100-meter medley relay team to lead the United States to a gold medal. Despite debuting at a young age, she didn’t swim in another Olympics, as she retired from swimming in 1970.
Gail Devers: Devers, who was born in Seattle, was a dominant sprinter for the United States at the end of the 20th century. She won the 100 meters at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in a photo finish, and defended her title four years later in Atlanta. In 1996 she was also part of the United States’ 4×100-meter relay team that won gold, giving her three gold medals for her career. She almost never made it, however. In 1990 she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. At times, it left her unable to walk and considering amputation, but she fought through and recovered to have a brilliant career.
Mary Whipple: Whipple is one of the latest in the long line of successful rowers from the University of Washington. After a standout collegiate career, she served as the coxswain for the United States’ women’s eight at the 2004 Athens Olympics, helping lead them to a silver medal. She didn’t stop there, though, and served as coxswain in 2008 and 2012, with the team winning gold medals both times. She ended her Olympic career with three medals won across three Olympics.
Sue Bird: Already one of the most decorated Olympians in Washington history, Sue Bird isn’t done yet. The three-time Olympic gold medalist is part of the U.S. women’s basketball team that will go for gold in 2016. Bird started her Olympic career as a 23-year-old backup with the 2004 team that won gold in Athens, and her role continued to expand in 2008 and 2012. The Seattle Storm star saved her best performances for when it mattered most, scoring 13 points in the 2012 semifinal and following that up with an 11-point game in the final to help lead the U.S. to victory.
Hope Solo: Another Washington athlete looking to add to her medal haul, Solo will serve as the starting goalie for the U.S. women’s soccer team that is chasing gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The Richland native and former University of Washington star has already served as the starting goalie on the U.S. teams that won gold in 2008 and 2012. Solo was a big reason the U.S. won gold in 2008, as she made a number of crucial saves to help the U.S. win, 1-0, in extra time.
Nathan Adrian: Adrian has the second-most medals of any Washington athlete, and he’ll look to add more in 2016. Adrian first competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when he swam on the U.S. 4×100-meter freestyle relay team to help the team win gold. He really shined in London in 2012, when he swam a personal best to win the 100-meter freestyle. He added a silver medal on the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and swam the freestyle leg of the US 4×100-meter medley relay team to lead them to gold. He’ll look to add to his total of four golds — he swam the anchor leg for the U.S.’s gold-medal winning 4×100-meter freestyle relay team — and a silver when he swims the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle in Rio this week.