Olympians Turned Politicians

A look at Americans who have represented the US on the field and the Hill.

July 27, 2012 -- intro: 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.

quicklist:1 title: Carl Lewis text:Carl Lewis, track and field athlete who is a 10-time Olympic medalist, and four-time participant in the Olympic games, put his running shoes aside to jump into the political game. In 2011, Lewis, age 50, ran for a seat in the New Jersey state senate, but his campaign was cut short when a federal appeals panel removed him from the ballot because he didn't meet a four-year residency requirement.

Lewis did not appeal the decision issued by a panel of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The residency requirement issue had dogged Lewis, who wanted to run as the Democratic contender in heavily Republican 8th legislative district of New Jersey.

The appeals court ruled that the state requires residency for four years to run for the senate, but Lewis, who grew up in New Jersey but ultimately settled in California where he voted in 2008 and 2009. Lewis switched his voter registration to New Jersey just before declaring his candidacy, making him ineligible to meet the state's four-year residency requirement.

Lewis today waded into the row over Mitt Romney's comments about London's preparedness for the Olympics.

According to the Independent, in London, Lewis criticized Romney for suggesting London may not be ready for the Olympics. "Every Olympics is ready, I don't care whatever he [Romney] said." The former athlete continued, "I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country. Are you kidding me, stay home if you don't know what to say."


quicklist: 1 title: The Romneys and Rafalca text: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.

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quicklist: 2 title: Tom McMillen text: 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.

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quicklist: 3 title: Jim Ryun text: 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.

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quicklist: 4 title: Bill Bradley text: 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.

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quicklist: 5 title: Bob Mathias text: 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.

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quicklist: 6 title: Ralph Metcalfe text: 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.

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