Olympic Members

Posted July 31, 2012 at 12:01am

Sports and politics go together like elections and opposition research: a match made in heaven. So it is absolutely no surprise that past Members of Congress have competed in the Olympic Games.

Rep. Ralph Harold Metcalfe (D-Ill.)

Considered the “World’s Fastest Human” from 1932 through 1934, Metcalfe competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Games and 1936 Berlin Games as part of the U.S. track and field dream team with teammate Jesse Owens. All told, he won one gold medal, four silver medals and three bronze medals.

Rep. Bob Mathias (R-Calif.)

According to his 2006 obituary in the Washington Post, at 17, Mathias was the youngest person of his generation to win the gold medal in the decathlon, in the 1948 London Games. He won again in the 1952 Helsinki Games.

Sen. Wendell Anderson (D-Minn.)

The only Member on this list to play a winter sport, Anderson brought home the silver medal as a member of the U.S. men’s hockey team in the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Games. Anderson went on to play professional hockey and be elected governor of Minnesota, and he was tapped to take over Vice President Walter Mondale’s Senate seat in 1976.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.)

Campbell was the captain of the U.S. Olympic judo team for the 1964 Tokyo Games. The Democrat-turned-Republican former Senator was so dedicated to the sport that he studied in Japan during his training. He was injured during the games and didn’t medal.

Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.)

At 17, Ryun competed in his first of three Olympics, the 1964 Tokyo Games. He later qualified for the 1968 Mexico City Games and the 1972 Munich Games. Ryun brought home the silver in 1968, racing in his specialty, the 1,500-meter. He was hoping for victory in Munich but tripped before the finish.

Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.)

McMillen was a University of Maryland Terrapin and NBA basketball player and Rhodes scholar in the early 1970s. He competed in Munich as a member of the silver-medal-winning 1972 U.S. men’s basketball team.

Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.)  

A professional basketball player and Rhodes scholar, Bradley competed in the 1964 Tokyo Games, winning a gold medal with the U.S. men’s basketball team.