Over 120 years and 29 Olympic Games, 25 Oakland athletes have participated in the Olympics and won a total of 19 gold medals, four silver medals, and two bronze medals. The Olympic Games have a legendary past and continue to capture the attention and imagination of the world like no other athletic competition. The greatest international sports spectacle on the planet will be on display for the 30th time in London from July 27th to August 12th.. During these summer Games, 10,500 athletes from 205 nations will participate in 300 events across 26 sports, while the Paralympics will include athletes from 147 nations.
Over the history of the Olympic Games, several Oakland athletes have become Olympic legends due to their outstanding performances. 38th Notes historian Paul Brekke-Miesner introduces a few Oakland Olympic highlights below:
1924 Paris Olympics:
Al White, (left) the former Oakland Tech High prep, was the first Olympic diving double gold medal winner. In the 1924 Paris Olympics he won gold in the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform.
1936 Berlin Olympics:
Archie Williams attended University High School and then Cal-Berkeley where in April of 1936 during the NCAA track and field championships clocked 46.5, passing the 400-meter mark in 46.1 to set a world record. In the Olympics in Berlin he won an exciting photo finish race over Godfrey Brown of Great Britain in a time of 46.5 for the gold.
1928, 1932, and 1948 Olympics:
The University of California rowers won gold medals in the eight-oared event in all three Olympics with Oaklanders in the boats. In 1928 in Amsterdam it was Hub Caldwell, in 1932 in L.A. it was Burt Jastram, and in 1948 in Henley, England it was brothers Dave and Ian Turner.
1948 and 1952 Olympics:
Zoe Ann Olson (right) won an Olympic silver medal in 1948 in London and then married Oakland High and Cal football and baseball star Jackie Jensen. She had the first of their three children in 1950 and then decided two weeks before the Olympic trials in 1952 to try out for the U.S. Olympic team. Amazingly, she made the team and went on to win a bronze medal in Helsinki, thereby becoming the only woman diver to medal at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.
1968 Mexico City Olympics:
Jim Hines (top), McClymonds High alum, was the first sprinter to break the 10-second barrier in the 100-meter dash. He accomplished the feat at the U.S. Track & Field Championships before the Olympics but it was manually timed so not official. Hines officially broke the barrier when he was electronically timed in the world-record time of 9.95 seconds to win the Olympic gold medal and the title -”World’s Fastest Human.” Hines also won a gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay, coming from sixth place when he received the baton and winning by a yard, running his leg in an incredible 8.2 seconds. Hines later said it was the fastest he ever ran in his life.
2000 Sydney Olympics:
Marcus Jensen, a Skyline High product, was a member of the U.S. Olympic baseball team that won a gold medal in 2000, the only gold medal won in baseball by the U.S. in the four Olympics when baseball was an official sport.
2004 Athens Olympics:
Andre Ward (above) won the gold medal in the middleweight boxing division at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. It was the first Olympic boxing gold in eight years for the United States. Watch him dominate his Olympic quarterfinal opponent, and world champion at the time, Evgeny Makarenko of Russia below.
Olympic Basketball Gold Medals – 1948, 1956, 1996, 2000, 2008:
Oaklanders like Bill Russell, Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Ron Tomsic and Don Barksdale have brought Olympic gold medals home with them over the years. Barksdale became the first African-American in U.S. history to play on America’s Olympic basketball team and win a gold medal in 1948. Russell and Tomsic were gold medal winning teammates on America’s 1956 team while Kidd and Payton teamed up to lead the U.S. contingent to gold in 2000. Payton also won a gold medal in 1996 while Kidd continued Oakland’s gold medal fortunes with 2008′s Redeem Team (below).