The U.S. has had many great moments on the Olympic track. Take a look back at some of the greatest U.S. track and field stars.

Jim Thorpe

Born on May 28, 1888, in Shawnee, Okla., Jim Thorpe is considered one of the greatest track and field athletes of all-time. When he attended the Olympics in 1912, he took first place in the decathlon and the pentathlon, as well as fourth place in the high jump and seventh in the long jump. However, Thorpe was caught playing semi-pro baseball in 1911, so his medals were revoked from his possession up until nearly 30 years after his death. After Stockholm, Thorpe played professional football and baseball, making his way into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

 

Jesse Owens

German dictator Adolf Hitler attained a propaganda success when it was decided that the 1936 Olympics would be hosted in Berlin. During the Games that year, track and field contender from Danville, Ala., Jesse Owens, came out on top. When Owens won four gold medals in the long jump, 100m, 200m and the 400m relay, Hitler stormed out of the Olympic Stadium so he wouldn’t have to congratulate Owens on his victories. Despite Hitler’s dissatisfaction with the achievements the athlete made, Owens proved himself to be one of the greatest track and field athletes of all-time.

 

Bob Mathias

Coming from the small town of Tulare, Calif., 17-year-old Robert “Bob” Mathias made a big name for himself at the 1948 Olympic Games. He was not only the youngest in history to win the gold medal in the decathlon, but also earned himself the title of the nation’s top amateur athlete when he received the 1948 Sullivan Award. Mathias wasn’t just successful in the Olympic Games, but in football as well. When he attended Stanford University, he played as the team’s star fullback. Consequently, when he scored himself another spot at the Olympics in 1952, Mathias also became the first person to compete in both the Olympic Games and the Rose Bowl.

 

Wilma Rudolph

When she was just a young girl, Wilma Rudolph’s doctor told her that her paralysis due to polio would prevent her from ever walking again. Despite these claims, Rudolph always had faith that she would prove her doctor wrong. One bronze and three gold medals later, Rudolph did just that. After competing in the 1960 Olympics, where she placed third in the 400m relay and first in the 100m, 200m, and 400m relays, Rudolph became one of the greatest track and field athletes of all-time.

 

Rafer Johnson

After excelling in football, baseball and basketball in both high school and college, Rafer Johnson took his athletic talents to the track. Johnson first qualified for the Olympic Games in 1956, where he took home a silver medal in the decathlon. The track star qualified again in 1960, where this time he took home the gold. In 1960, Johnson received the Sullivan Award as the nation’s best amateur athlete. From there he began to work for President John Kennedy’s Peace Corps and later became an actor and successful businessman.

 

Wyomia Tyus

Born in the small town of Griffin, Ga., in 1945, the talents of Wyomia Tyus certainly stood out on the track. In 1964, Tyus earned a spot at the Olympic Games where she placed second in the 4x400m relay and first in the 100m. In 1968, Tyus competed in the Games again, this time placing sixth in the 200m, and first in both the 400m relay and 100m.

 

Dick Fosbury