Led by Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, the 1956 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team was dominant at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games, winning each of its eight games by at least 30 points en route to winning a gold medal.
Perhaps the greatest amateur basketball team ever assembled, the roster included 10 future NBA players, including the next four players to win Rookie of the Year. The team won its games by an average of 42.4 points en route to the gold medal.
The 1980 U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey Team of college players and minor leaguers pulled perhaps the biggest upset ever in Olympic history, pulling off the “Miracle On Ice” to win the gold medal at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
Women’s soccer was added to the Olympic Games for the first time ever and while it was only an eight-team competition, it was a rousing success capped by the U.S. 2-1 victory over China in the gold medal game.
The U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s gold medal at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games had a lasting impact; there were 28,000 girls and women who played ice hockey at the time, a number that has grown to 80,000 today.
A football injury derailed Bruce Jenner’s football career and started a path to a gold medal in the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Jenner later came out as transgender and changed her name to Caitlyn Jenner.
Candace Cable participated in nine different Paralympic Games in three sports and was the first U.S. woman to win medals in both the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games. She won eight gold medals and had 84 career first-place marathon finishes.
After failing to win a medal in his first three Olympics, speed skater Dan Jansen set a world record and won gold in his final Olympic race, the 1,000 meters in the Lillehammer 1994 Olympic Winter Games.
Subscribe to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum newsletter and keep up to get the latest news and features from our Digital Museum, including Spotlight features and tips to plan your visit to Pikes Peak Region and the Museum.