Olympians Turned Politicians

PHOTO: The US basketball team prematurely erupting with celebration at the Summer Olympics. The official ordered three seconds replayed and the Soviets scored defeating the US.
Rich Clarkson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

After the Olympics, many athletes find themselves asking - what next? Well, some athletes realize that, once all of the games, contests and competitions are over, being an Olympian really has a lot in common with being a politician. Some go from representing their country on the pitch to serving their country on the Hill - while in one rare case, the transformation is in the opposite direction.

PHOTO: Ann Romney and officials at an awards ceremony during the National Grand Prix Dressage Championship at the United States Equestrian Federation Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ, June 16, 2012. Her horse, Rafalca, placed third and qualified to
Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Corbis
The Romneys and Rafalca

Mitt and Ann Romney will shift from political family to Olympic competitors with the dawn of this summer's London Olympics when Ann's dressage horse Rafalca takes to the ring. While dressage and horses are primarily Ann's passions, Mitt has dipped his toes into the competition as well - apparently he picks the music. Both Romneys are expected to attend the 2012 Opening Ceremonies in London. The GOP presidential candidate has more association with the Olympic Games than just through his wife's horse, however - he served as president and CEO of the planning committee for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

PHOTO: The US basketball team prematurely erupting with celebration at the Summer Olympics. The official ordered three seconds replayed and the Soviets scored defeating the US.
Rich Clarkson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Tom McMillen

Tom McMillen was pegged as a rising basketball star early on - he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated while still in high school. He went on to play both at the University of Maryland and in the NBA. McMillen played on the 1972 Olympic basketball team, which left Munich after suffering a controversial defeat at the hands of the Soviets. McMillen, a Democrat, went on to serve Maryland in the House for three consecutive terms starting in 1987. He lost his reelection bid in 1992 and retired from politics.

PHOTO: Jim Ryun of the United States crosses the line to take silver ahead of Bodo Tummler of West Germany in the Men's 1,500 metres event of the XIX Summer Olympic Games on 20th October 1968 at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City, Mexico.
Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Jim Ryun

Jim Ryun, a well-known athlete when he competed in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, was topped by a relatively unknown runner in the 1500-meter. Ryun, who also competed for the US in 1964 and 1972, retired after his third failed attempt at a gold medal in Munich. After trying out the private sector for a few years, Ryun turned to politics. Born and bred in Kansas, the Republican was elected to a vacated House seat in 1996 after winning 62 percent of the vote in the primary. Reelected in 1998, 2000 and 2002, Ryun's political career faltered in 2006, when he lost his bid for reelection, and in 2008, when he again attempted to reclaim his lost seat.

PHOTO: Princeton's Bill Bradley (#42) scoots around Michigan's Cazzie Russell at the ECAC Holiday Basketball Festival at Madison Square Garden, Dec 31, 1964 in New York, NY.
Bill Bradley

Bill Bradley, who played basketball at Princeton, internationally and with the New York Knicks before stepping onto the court in Tokyo in the 1964 Olympics, brought gold home from Japan and went on to continue a stellar basketball career.

Once he was finished with sports, Bradley decided to move into politics. Always an active supporter of Democrats in New Jersey, where he put down roots during his college years, Bradley was elected to the Senate in 1978. He served as senator for New Jersey for 20 years, until 1999. He made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000 before dropping out and endorsing Al Gore.

PHOTO: Bob Mathias, center, runs the 100-meter (heat four) in the 1948 London Olympics, Aug. 7, 1948, London, England, UK. The men are shown at the staring line as the starter gun goes off.
Bob Mathias

At the age of 17, Bob Mathias stormed onto the international stage when he claimed gold in the 1948 London Olympics in the decathlon. He went on to repeat this feat in Helsinki four years later - and, in the same year, played on Stanford's Rose Bowl-winning football team.

After over a decade spent in the sports world and picking up a few acting gigs, the Republican went on to serve California in the Senate for 12 years. First elected in 1966 over the incumbent Democrat, Mathias successfully claimed reelection twice before redistricting led to his downfall in the 1974 election. He served briefly as the Deputy Director of the Selective Service for a few months in 1975 before retreating from the public eye.

PHOTO: American Sprinter Ralph Harold Metcalfe In Berlin, Germany On August 7, 1933.
Keystone-France/Getty Images
Ralph Metcalfe

Two-time Olympian Ralph Metcalfe nabbed glory in both Los Angeles in 1932 and in Berlin in 1936. While a skilled competitor in his own right, Metcalfe is likely best remembered for his part in the gold medal-winning 4x100 relay team that competed in Berlin.

Following military service and a career in the private sector, Metcalfe started his political career by representing the South side of Chicago on the city council in 1949. The Democrat took office in the Senate in 1971, and represented Illinois there until his death in 1978.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...