Pennsylvania Olympians: Viva Sua Paixao!

The August program page is what you need for the weekend, unless you're staying in to watch the Olympics!

Today’s post comes from guest blogger Corine Lehigh, a former PHMC Keystone intern and currently on staff of the Pennsylvania State Archives. This is her third guest post for Trailheads; her previous posts covered the acquisition of Gov. Milton Shapp’s personal papers and a historic walking tour last summer’s interns took in Harrisburg. To save you from looking it up—“Viva Sua Paixao” is the slogan for the Rio Olympics and means “Live Your Passion” in Portuguese (you can see lots of logos online – I couldn’t figure out if it was okay to use one here so I decided to avoid the IOC’s copyright maze).

In addition to the athletes Corine mentions below, I’ll include two other PA Connections. As in 2012, the uniforms for this year's U.S. gymnastics teams were made in PA (this story on PennLive gives details and photos). Not only are many members of the U.S. Field Hockey team from Pennsylvania, the team is based in Lancaster County, training at Spooky Nook Sports Complex; they’re doing well as of 8/9/16 (may be more news by the time you read this) (UPDATE 8/12: they're still undefeated.) (Update 8/15/16: Team USA has lost to Germany in the quarterfinals but has many proud and loyal fans cheering back home.)

Pennsylvania has been home to the first World’s Fair in the United States (1876), President James Buchanan, the Battle of Gettysburg, Hershey’s Chocolate, Steeltown USA, the City of Brotherly Love, and so much more. However, few Pennsylvanians remember our citizens who have represented the Keystone State in the Olympics throughout the years. Here are just a few of many who have attended and medaled in the past:

John Woodruff, 1936 Olympian
Olympian John Woodruff (via Wikimedia Commons

Grandson of two Virginia slaves, Connellsville native John Woodruff won the gold medal in the 800-meter event at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Along with that of Jesse Owens, Woodruff’s victory helped to challenge the notion of Aryan racial supremacy. The National Visionary Leadership Project website has more information on John Woodruff’s life before and after the Olympics. (Editor’s note: at the time of his passing in 2007, Woodruff was the last surviving U.S. gold medalist from the 1936 games).

Winning a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, wrestler Kurt Angle (born Mt. Lebanon, north of Pittsburgh) reportedly competed with a broken neck and three slipped disks. An article on Bleacher Report from 2013 provides info about Kurt’s wrestle through the pain as well as how he feels about wrestling being removed from the Olympic Games.

Allentown native and current Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein earned a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics in the cycling sprint. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000 he became the first American (oops! editing error - thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for the correction) since Mark Gorski in 1984 to win the gold medal in that event. Learn more about Nothstein’s road to the Olympics on Cycling

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, sprinter Lauryn Williams won the silver medal in the 100-meter; she won a gold medal in the 4 x 100-meter race at the London Games in 2012. Williams (born in Rochester, near Pittsburgh) is one of only five athletes (and the first American woman) who has medaled in both the summer and winter Olympics. In 2014 she won the silver medal for two-woman bobsled team at the Sochi Olympics. Learn more about this amazing athlete on her professional website.

This summer at the Rio Olympics, the Keystone State is represented by 26 athletes (read about all of them in this Doylestown Patch post). Learn more about individual PA Olympians by checking out the following links, competition schedules, and videos:
Inspired? If you’re interested in learning how you can make your own Olympic dream come true, check out the NBC Olympics "gold map."


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