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April 05, 1996 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-05

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14- The Michigan Daily - Friday, April_5, 1996
ou've probably heard of Tom Dolan by
now. Even at Michigan, a school obsessed
with revenue sports like football and bas-
ketball, his talents have drawn some at-
Dolan is the University's -and the
United States'- best hope for a swimming gold
medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The
junior is the world record-holder in the 400-meter
individual medley, and he has a chance to be the
biggest American swimming star since Mark
He is all of that - and an asthmatic.
The wheezing wonder can cut through water like
a hungry eel, despite the fact that his lungs only suck
in a fraction of the oxygen as a normal person's.
The adversity gets him as much notice as his talent,
Sports Illustrated, Newsweek and ESPN have all featured his
relentless race against his own body. The nation is fascinated by
the kid who can beat anybody - but can't breathe.
"Tom is a very special swimmer," said Michigan swimming
coach Jon Urbanchek, who will be a U.S. Olympic assistant
coach this summer. "He works very hard and pushes himself
farther than other people will go."
Dolan is the story everyone already knows. He is the
Olympic spirit poster boy, the one who beat the odds.
The tale few University students have heard lies in
those who came before Dolan.
More than 100 Michigan athletes have tackled their
own personal adversities, conquered their own odds,
and made it to the world's greatest athletic showcase.
More than 100 college students have gone from book-
carrying kids strolling around Ann Arbor to flag-
bearing Olympians parading around cities like Rome,
Paris and Berlin.
Tom Dolan is only the latest. He is only the most
recent star to add to a Michigan tradition that argu-
ably makes the winged helmet look as impressive as
chicken wings.
Adversity has been inherent in the Michigan Olym-
pic tradition since the beginning.
At the 1900 Games in Paris, there was no organized
U.S. team. A number of universities sponsored squads
instead, and Michigan was able to scrape up enough
money to send four of its track standouts.


grabbed the gold and set a world record in the 200 breast-
stroke. Eric Namesnik swam to a silver in the 400 IM
Gustavo Borges won the silver for Brazil in the 1 0t
Athletes aren't the University's only Olympians.
Gus Stager, Kimball and now Urbanchek all have
coached the red, white,maize and blue in the water.
The swimming years aren't over, either. Michi
gan could send up to 14 representatives to Atlanta,
including alternates and coaches.
There is more to the Michigan Olympic tradition
than U.S. track and swimming.
Wolverines have competed for nations from the
Bahamas and Peru to Great Britain and Turkey. Sports
from baseball to kayaking to wrestling havebeen played
or rowed or competed in by a student or alum.
Steve Fraser won the first-ever U.S. gold medal in greco-
roman wrestling at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Greg
Barton finished third in the 1,000-meter kayaking event that
same Olympiad. And then he did it again in Barcelona in 1992.
In 1928, Buck Hester and Garnet Ault became the first
Wolverines to compete for a foreign nation, runnin
track for Canada.
Since then, Michigan has sent medals around the
globe. Eeles Landstrom won the bronze in the pole vault
for Finland atthe 1960 Games in Rome. Alvaro Gaxiola
won the silver in platform diving in her native-land,
competing for Mexico in Mexico City at the 1968
Games. The list goes on.
Team sports have also felt a Michigan presence.
Willard Ikola and John Metcheffs made a rare Winter
Olympic showing for the University in 1956, earning
silver medals as members of the U.S. ice hockey tea
John Clawson won gold in basketball for the Unite
States in 1968, and Michigan freshman Phil Hubbard
won a hoops gold in the 1976 Montreal Games.
Barry Larkin won the gold in baseball - an
exhibition sport - in 1984.
Then there is the story of Jim Abbott, possibly the
greatest champion of the odds.
Abbott, the baseball pitcher with one hand who
starred at Michigan, won the hearts and respect of the
world helping the United States to a 1988 gold medal.
"I'm not out to prove people wrong," Abbott said
afterward. "I just wanted a chance."
Michigan has had athletes at every Olympiad this century,
beating odds and setting the pace at times.
The Games won't be any different this summer.
Like Hubbard's color, Stoller's ethnicity, Spillaine's gen-
der and Abbott's disability, Dolan's asthma will have to be
Other Wolverines will have to do the same in their own right.
Namesnik, Eric Wunderlich, Tom Malchow andJohn Piersma
will all swimwith Dolan this summer. Several other Wolverine.
will be swimming againstthem. Borges (Brazil), Marcel Wouda
(the Netherlands), Derya Buyucuncu (Turkey) and Ryan Papa
(the Philippines) - and possibly Shuichi Matsumoto (Japan)
and Owen von Richter (Canada)-will be going to Atlanta for
their respective nations, too.
Incoming freshman Shannon Shakespeare will be the first
woman to swim in the Olympics for Michigan since the program
began in 1974.
Urbanchek and Kirk Trost (wrestling) will coach in Atlanta.
Track's Tania Longe is hoping to run for Norway. Canadians
Kevin Sullivan, Scott MacDonald and Courtney Babcock w/
be trying for berths in track, and it is possible some form
Michigan softball players will be playing for the United States.
But all of these athletes are just the latest. They are just the
newest rendition of the Olympic song that has played in Ann
Arbor since 1900.
Like all the Wolverines before them, they are classic stories
of Olympic spirit. Like all the Wolverines before them, they just
wanted a chance. Like all the Wolverines before them, they beat
the odds.

Olympic Firsts in
Michigan History
* The Wolverines' first medal-
winners were John McLean,
Charles Dvorak and Howard
Hayes at the 1900 Games in
Paris. McLean won the silver in
the high hurdles. Dvorak
earned a silver in the pole
vault, and Hayes grabbed a
silver in the 800-meter
"handicap" race.
+ Michigan's first gold medal-
winner was Archie Hahn. He won
three goals at the 1904 St. Louis
Games, placing first in the 60
meter run, the 100 and the 200.
* The first black individual gold
medalist was a Wolverine.
William DeHart Hubbard, won
the gold in the long jump at the
1924 Paris Games. He set a
world record in the event in
1925, his final year as a
* In 1928, Michigan had its
first athletes compete for a
foreign country. Buck Hester
ran and Garnet Ault swam for
Canada in Amsterdam.
+ The University's first female
gold medalist was swimmer
Joan Spillane. She was a
member of the U.S. 400 relay
team, which finished first. Her
feat came 14 years before
Michigan had a women's
swimming program.

There was
no multi-million dollar
athletic budget in those
days. Prof. Albert
Pattengill and others -
after they learned rival
Chicago was sending a
delegation to France -
made sure the 1900
champions of the West
would be represented in
Paris. They solicited
funding from faculty,
students, alums and Ann
Arbor businesses. The
University had its first
Michigan coach
Keene Fitzpatrick and
two students accompa-
nied John McLean,
Charles Dvorak,
Howard Hayes and
Clark Leiblee to Paris.
McLean, Dvorak and
Hayes all won silver
medals. Leiblee made
the semifinals in the
100-meters, but did not
qualify for the finals.
The Wolverines'
success, despite the
lack of a national team
and funding, brought
honor to America and
It also gave the
maize and blue an or-
ganized Olympic tra-
dition before the stars
and stripes did.

ings were on the cinders. Dvorak, Archie Hahn, Ralph Rose,
Fred Schule, Ralph Craig, William DeHart Hubbard and Eddie
Tolan all won golds.
There were some interesting individual stories among them.
Hahn won three events at the 1904 Games in St. Louis. He
finished first in the 60, 100 and the 200. His 7.2-second time in
the 60 was a world record, and his 21.6-second clip in the 200
was an Olympic record that stood until 1932.
Tolan - another Wolverine - broke it.
He ran the 200 in 21.2 seconds in Los Angeles to win his
second gold medal. He also won the 100, beating Ralph Metcalfe
in a photo finish.
Craig, sandwiched between the record battles of Hahn and
Tolan, won both the 100 and 200 at the 1912 Stockholm Games.
Those performances, however, weren't as historic as
There were obstacles to hurdle again.
Hubbard conquered the world
and the color line at the 1924 Th oi
Paris Games, becoming the first ym
black athlete to win an individual i
gold medal. He took the longjump n v a
with a leap of 24-feet-5.
His achievements were over- o k ow yo
shadowedat the time by U.S. team- sm eth int f
mate John Legendre. In the
pentathalon, Legendre set a world ountryyoL
record in the long jump, flying to a .
distance of 25-feet-5.75. your school
Back at Michigan in 1925,
Hubbard opened some eyes again.
In his final appearance as a Wol-
verine, he broke Legendre's world
record with a jump of 25-feet-10.85.

birthday, U.S. coach Lawrence Robertson withdrew Stoller and
Glickman in favor of Owens and Metcalfe. Owens won his
fourth gold medal of that Games as the relay team finished first.
Stoller and Glickman were the only Jews on the U.S. track
team and the only members not to compete.
When word reachedthe United States, Robertson was heavily
criticized for succumbing to Nazi pressure to keep Jews from
competing, even though Owens was hardly the Aryan ideal.
"A logical team, it seems after these results, would be
composed of Glickman, Stoller, Draper and Wyckoff," Michi-
gan track coach Charlie Hoyt said in the Aug. 11, 1936, edition
of the Daily. "Stoller beat Metcalfe in three of four Olympic
tryouts and trounced Wyckoff in another heat.
"I would rather see the team get beaten than deprive any ofthe
boys their chance to take part in the Olympics. And in this case,
there was no chance of defeat."
Despite rumors hinting Stoller would retire as a result of his
heartbreak, he returned for his se-
nior year at Michigan.
iics are But he never returned to the
it it i grat Olympics.
are doing With Stoller's hard luck, the
Michigan track team's Olympic
W yourfortunes fell. The Wolverines
r team and found dominance elsewhere, how-
ever. The swimming days were at
Michigan's only medal-winner
- Tom Dolan at the 1948 London Games was
Michigan Olympian Bob Sohl, who took third in
the 200 breaststroke.
At the 1952 Games in -.



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