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A Look Back at Utah’s Olympic Medalists

The University of Utah has produced and hosted some of the world’s most stellar athletes.
Utah+gymnast+Grace+McCallum+embraces+assistant+coach+Myia+Hambrick+after+scoring+a+perfect+10+on+her+floor+routine+versus+the+Stanford+Cardinal+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Feb.+23%2C+2024.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+%E2%80%9CAxe%E2%80%9D+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
Utah gymnast Grace McCallum embraces assistant coach Myia Hambrick after scoring a perfect 10 on her floor routine versus the Stanford Cardinal at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The Olympic Games are arguably the pinnacle of sports. The athletes who are considered the best of the best in their respective events square off in representation for their home nations. Billions of people tune in to watch the Olympic Games, directly representing their significance.

The athletes who find themselves at the top of their sports are the recipients of Olympic medals, considered one of the most prestigious awards an athlete can earn. The pride that an Olympic medal carries is beyond notable, as it represents thousands of hours of training throughout the athlete’s life.

As a result, Olympic medalists are sealed into a long history of athletic achievement. With such significant legacies, it is hard for an Olympic medalist to go unnoticed.

Across a plethora of sports, those featured in the summer and winter Olympics, the University of Utah has had their fair share of these stellar athletes.

Skatin’ Utes

In the most recent Winter Olympics in Beijing, the U saw two of its own representatives earn bronze medals. Casey Dawson and Ethan Cepuran skated their way to a bronze medal in team pursuit speed skating for Team USA. With both athletes having attended the University of Utah, they brought its representation to the international stage.

This particular event saw the usage of a new strategy with American roots for the first time in the Olympics. Differing from traditional speed-skating tactics, the Americans found great success with the method.

In the bronze medal competition, the Americans found themselves facing off against the Netherlands. The Netherlands’ team utilized a more “traditional” skating strategy, while the United States continued to rely on the new pushing technique, which allows the lead skater to stay in front of the group instead of dropping back to rest.

With this technique, the Americans flew their way to winning the bronze medal, with the team finishing nearly three seconds ahead of the Dutch team. With their legacies forever etched into Olympic history, they have well represented their country and the U.

Red Rock Medalists in Tokyo

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan saw a number of Utah’s Red Rock gymnasts earn medals. Utes Grace McCallum, Amelie Morgan and MyKayla Skinner all found themselves returning from the Olympics with hardware.

McCallum hails from Minnesota and competed for Team USA during the Olympics. McCallum, who practices artistic gymnastics, produced a solid performance in Tokyo. Months after graduating high school, McCallum delivered for Team USA on the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor routine. With her contribution, Team USA went on to win the silver medal. McCallum went on to start her collegiate career at the U that fall.

In the Tokyo Olympics, Morgan represented her home nation of Great Britain. A week following her 18th birthday, Morgan produced a solid performance for Team Great Britain on the uneven bars. The performance further contributed to Great Britain’s total score, earning them their first Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics since 1928. Morgan began attending the U that fall and is now a junior. More recently, Morgan helped the Red Rocks to their fourth Pac-12 Championship in a row.

Skinner, who served as an alternate for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics, was also a member of the silver-medal-winning team in 2020. Skinner’s first season with the Red Rocks was in 2017, and during her time at Utah, she put together an impressive collegiate career. With the Red Rocks, she earned a notable 111 victories and seven Pac-12 titles. Skinner announced the 2020 Summer Olympics as her last competition, and retired after winning the silver medal.

Big Wins in Salt Lake City

Here in Utah, no other Olympic memories are as fond as those of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Hosted here in the heart of Salt Lake City, the world was given a glimpse of what our state had to offer.

Not only did our state show up, but our athletes did as well. Notable Ute alumni participated in the game, and one even wound up winning a silver medal.

Joe Pack, a former student of the U, was the local hero in those 2002 games. An injury prevented him from participating in the 1998 Winter Olympics, so his 2002 performance was his first on the Olympic stage.

His thrilling performance in the competitive, nail-biting freestyle skiing competition earned him a silver medal. Practically competing on his home turf, Pack proudly represented the U and his nation.

In short, the U has produced and hosted some of the world’s most stellar athletes. Several of these athletes have had the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports, and have obtained some of the world’s most exclusive hardware in the process. These athletes’ dedication to their sports is truly inspiring and goes to show that anything is possible.

 

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@jonahmarriott

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About the Contributors
Jonah Marriott
Jonah Marriott, Sports Writer
(he/him) Jonah Marriott is sports writer from Ogden, Utah. He inherited his love for sports from his parents and is an avid fan of the major Detroit sports franchises. He joined the Chronicle in the fall of 2023 and is studying mechanical engineering.
Xiangyao Tang
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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