Penn and the Olympics

Penn track team that attended 1900 Olympics
Photo credit: University Archives

The Winter Olympic Games are just around the corner and during the two weeks of figure skating, hockey, snowboarding and hurling that will occur in Vancouver, Canada, another chapter of sports history will be written. For more than a century, Penn has played an important role in the Olympic Games, beginning at the 1900 games in Paris.

This photograph shows the 13-member Penn track team that attended the 1900 games in France. The team won a total of 22 medals, including 11 gold. Alvin Kraenzlein earned four gold medals, Irving Knott Baxter won two gold and three silver and John Tewkesbury brought home one gold medal, two silver and one bronze. Over the past century, Penn has been able to boast Olympians in sports ranging from swimming, wrestling and field hockey, to crew and equestrian events.

One of the most famous Olympians with Penn connections was the accomplished rower John B. Kelly, Jr., who participated in the 1948 Olympics while he was a student. He did not earn a medal that year, but won a bronze during his third Olympics, the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia. His father, John Kelly, Sr. was also famous for his rowing skills, winning two gold medals in the 1920 Olympic Games.

For more information on this and other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives at

Originally published on January 21, 2010