Boston’s ties to the Olympics

Larry Bird
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In Boston, the U.S. Olympic Committee chose a a site for its 2024 Olympic bid that has never been an official Olympic bid city before.

But that’s not to say Boston and its surrounding area don’t have ties to the Olympic Games.

Several of Boston’s most famous athletes are Olympians. And several of the most famous U.S. Olympians lived in Boston, starting with the first modern Olympic gold medalist, Athens 1896 triple jumper James Connolly, who was born in Boston and attended Harvard.

For more recent Olympians, let’s start with the major professional team sports stars.

Boston Celtics Olympians include Larry Bird (gold, 1992), Kevin Garnett (gold, 2000) and Bill Russell (gold, 1956).

Boston Bruins Olympians include Ray Bourque (fourth place with Canada, 1998), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia, 2006, 2010, 2014) and Tim Thomas (silver, 2010). Bobby Orr is not an Olympian but did carry the Olympic flag at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony.

Boston Red Sox Olympians include Nomar Garciaparra (fourth place, 1992), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan, 2000, 2004, bronze medalist) and Jason Varitek (1992).

Other notable Boston-area natives to star in the Olympics include Mike Eruzione and Jim Craig, captain and goalie of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won gold. Eruzione and Craig were from Massachusetts and played at Boston University.

Olympic medalists swimmer Jenny Thompson, judoka Kayla Harrison, figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie and gymnasts Aly Raisman and Alicia Sacramone are from the Boston area.

Don’t forget the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual 26.2-mile race. Last year, three-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi became the first U.S. man to win the race since 1983. Keflezighi won 2004 Olympic marathon silver. Joan Benoit won two Boston Marathons before she captured the first Olympic women’s marathon in Los Angeles in 1984.

In 2010, Vermont moguls skier Hannah Kearney wore a Jacoby Ellsbury Red Sox shirt under her Opening Ceremony uniform during the Parade of Nations. Kearney won gold the next day.

One of the world’s most prestigious rowing events, the Head of the Charles Regatta, takes place on Boston’s Charles River. Retired British Olympic legends Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent rowed there in 2014, their first time in competition together since Sydney 2000.

Many U.S. Olympic women’s hockey players have Boston ties. Four-time medalists Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu played at Harvard.

Olympic historian Bill Mallon pointed out that Harvard’s stadium hosted some preliminary 1984 Olympic soccer matches as part of the Los Angeles Games.

Many more U.S. Olympic greats have ties to New England, such as Connecticut’s Alex Deibold (Sochi snowboard cross bronze medalist), Maine’s Seth Wescott (two-time snowboard cross gold medalist) and Vermont’s Kelly Clark (three-time snowboard halfpipe medalist), Bode Miller (six-time Alpine skiing medalist), Ross Powers (two-time snowboard halfpipe medalist), Mikaela Shiffrin (Sochi slalom champion of Burke Mountain Academy) and Hannah Teter (two-time snowboard halfpipe medalist).

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