11 Notable Medalists in the Olympic Art Competitions

Getty Images
Getty Images

Between 1912 and 1948, art competitions were a part of the Olympics. Medals were awarded for architecture, music, painting and sculpture. Here are some notable medalists in those categories.

1. Baron Pierre de Coubertin

The founder of the International Olympic Committee and the man responsible for reviving the Olympic art competitions won a gold medal in literature at the 1912 Games for his “Ode to Sport,” which was submitted under a pseudonym. Were the judges tipped off? We may never know.

2. Mahonri Young

Born 20 days before the death of his grandfather, Mormon leader Brigham Young, Mahonri won gold in the sculpture competition at the 1932 Los Angeles Games for his “Knockdown.”

3. Jack B. Yeats

The younger brother of Irish poet W.B. Yeats won the silver medal in painting at the 1924 Paris Games for his “Natation.”

4. Walter Winans

Winans was one of two people who won an Olympic medal in the arts and one in athletics, and the only person to do it in the same year. Winans, a United States citizen who lived in England, won the silver medal in the team running deer shooting competition and gold in sculpture for his bronze “An American Trotter” in 1912. Winans suffered a heart attack and died while driving a horse in a trotting race eight years later.

5. John Russell Pope

The architect of the Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art won a silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Games in architecture for his design of Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Pope submitted an entry for the 1936 Games, but did not receive a medal or an honorable mention.

6. Alfred Hajos

The Hungarian won a pair of gold medals in freestyle swimming at the 1896 Athens Games. Nearly 30 years later, Hajos won silver in the architecture competition at the 1924 Paris Games for his design of the Budapest Swimming Center.

7. Percy Crosby

Crosby created the comic strip “Skippy,” which debuted in 1925, ran through 1945 and was published in 28 countries. During the height of his popularity, Crosby won a silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Games in the watercolors and drawings competition for his “Jackknife.” Crosby suffered from alcoholism later in life and in 1949 was admitted to New York’s Kings Park Psychiatric Center, where he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

8. Jean Jacoby

Jacoby, from Luxembourg, is the only artist to receive two gold medals in the Olympic art competitions. He won the gold for his painting “Etudes de Sport” at the 1924 Games and another gold four years later in Amsterdam for his drawing of rugby players. Jacoby earned honorable mentions in 1932 and 1936.

9. Aale Tynni

The Finnish poet was the only woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic art competitions. Tynni won the gold in 1948 for her poem “Hellaan Laakeri.”

10. John Copley

The 73-year-old British graphic artist was awarded the silver medal in the engravings and etchings competition at the 1948 Games for his “Polo Player.” Copley would be the oldest medalist in Olympic history if the International Olympic Committee still recognized medals from the art competitions.

11. A.W. Diggelmann

The Swiss graphic artist only submitted works in two Olympics, but he’s the only artist to win gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as an honorable mention.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

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Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
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American flag cornhole game.
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Tommie Smith and John Carlos Shocked the World—and Sacrificed Their Careers—By Protesting Racism at the 1968 Olympics

American athlete Tommie Smith, wearing black socks, celebrates after crossing the finish line of the men's 200-meter final ahead of Australian Peter Norman and compatriot John Carlos during the Mexico Olympic Games.
American athlete Tommie Smith, wearing black socks, celebrates after crossing the finish line of the men's 200-meter final ahead of Australian Peter Norman and compatriot John Carlos during the Mexico Olympic Games.
EPU/AFP via Getty Images

On October 16, 1968, track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos stepped onto the Olympic podium in Mexico City to receive their medals for the 200-meter dash; Smith had won the gold, Carlos the bronze. They were wearing black socks—no shoes—and badges that read “Olympic Project for Human Rights.” Smith had also donned a black scarf, while Carlos had unzipped his jacket (which was against Olympic rules) and slung a long string of beads around his neck.

When “The Star-Spangled Banner” began to blare through the stadium, the two athletes bowed their heads and each raised a black-gloved fist into the air. While the crowd recognized the gesture as the familiar Black Power salute, Smith claimed it was a "human rights" salute. Regardless of what they wanted to call it, that it was meant as a protest against racism wasn’t lost on anyone; a stunned silence fell over the stadium.

“There’s something awful about hearing 50,000 people go silent, like being in the eye of a hurricane,” Carlos later wrote in his memoir.

In the Eye of a Hurricane

According to The Washington Post, it wasn't long before the momentary stillness yielded to a swell of jeers and boos, with some spectators even shouting the words to the national anthem in a sort of counter-protest. Smith and Carlos were ushered out of the arena and swiftly evicted from the Olympic Village. Before returning to the U.S., Smith appeared in an ABC news segment that aired the following day. The interviewer, ABC sports editor Howard Cosell, kept his question short and open-ended.

tommie smith and john carlos 1968 olympic medal ceremony
From left to right: Peter Norman, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic medal ceremony for the 200-meter dash.
AFP via Getty Images

“Tommie, would you explain to the people of America exactly what you did and why you did it?” he asked.

Smith explained that their gloved fists “signified the power in Black America,” and their shoeless feet were a symbol of the poverty that Black Americans faced. (As for why each man only wore one glove, Smith stated that it was a mark of “black unity.” But Peter Norman, the Australian silver medalist with them on the podium, later claimed one of the Americans had simply forgotten his pair of gloves, so they shared them).

The Gathering Storm

Though the protest itself had been planned just before the ceremony, in the year leading up to the event, Smith, Carlos, and other athletes had already been using the Summer Olympics as a platform to further the goals of the civil rights movement. In October 1967, Dr. Harry Edwards founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR), whose mission was originally to protest segregation in the U.S.

According to Global Sport Matters, Smith and Carlos were the first athletes to join, and the organization’s objectives became more global as it expanded. The OPHR had demanded, for example, that South Africa be banned from participating in the Olympics as long as it remained under apartheid, that Olympic teams hire more Black coaches, and that International Olympic Committee chairman Avery Brundage—who had failed to condemn Nazism during the 1936 Olympics, among other controversies—resign his position. Not all of their conditions were met immediately, though Brundage did step down from his position following the next Olympics. But South Africa was prohibited from the ’68 games, and coaching staffs did diversify a little in the following years.

In the months leading up to the Mexico City Olympics, the political atmosphere grew increasingly more turbulent. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was killed just two months later, and thousands of people across the country were rioting to protest both racial injustice and the Vietnam War. Other countries were dealing with similar unrest: In May, students in France rioted against their conservative government; the Soviet Union quelled a Czechoslovakian rebellion in August; and, just 10 days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the Mexican military killed scores—possibly hundreds or even thousands—of students at a rally in Mexico City.

Compared to the violence occurring around the world, Smith and Carlos’s small, peaceful protest seemed innocuous, but it definitely wasn’t without backlash. Many journalists seemed embarrassed that American athletes had shone a spotlight on the nation’s domestic issues in front of a global audience, and asserted they shouldn’t have tried to use the Olympics as a “problem-solving platform,” as Los Angeles Sentinel reporter Booker Griffin put it.

Within Black communities, however, the response was celebratory, especially among young people; according to The Undefeated, thousands of Howard University students congregated in Washington, D.C., to welcome Carlos back from Mexico City.

“From this day forward, Black people will pick their own heroes,” civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) declared at the gathering.

The eventual awakening

Olympic officials were not as impressed by the duo's actions. Echoing the sentiments of condemnatory journalists, the IOC suspended both Smith and Carlos from the U.S. track team. They both played professional football for one year before pursuing careers as track coaches.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2008 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2008 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

History.com reports that silver medalist Peter Norman, who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on his chest during the ceremony, was not asked to compete for Australia in the 1972 Olympics, even though he qualified. When he died in 2006, Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman's funeral.

In 2019, more than half a century after their controversial show of support for the civil rights movement, the two American track stars were inducted into the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame.

"I knew that I did the right thing," Carlos told KOAA News5 at the time. "I feel as proud today as I did that day. I'm just so happy that so many people have woken up to it today.”