The Greenwich Olympic Connection


Since the 2014 Olympics is currently underway in Sochi, Russia, I thought I would write about athletes from Greenwich who competed in the international games over the years. Greenwich has been well-represented in the Olympics.   Some athletes were born here, and others lived here.  Some are well-known, and some are obscure.  So I decided to research the subject, and post a blog, which I hope will interest you.


I discovered that James Stillman Rockefeller won the Gold medal as a member of the 8-man rowing team at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. He worked as a banker in New York, and had a mansion in Greenwich.   He was married to Nancy Carnegie, grandniece of Andrew Carnegie,  

The next name I came across was that of Bob Swenning.  He was born in Greenwich on July 25, 1924.  His specialty was figure skating, and he and his partner, Yvonne Sherman,  took fourth place in the 1948 Olympics in Los Angeles.  Bob passed away on November 8, 2012.

Donna de Varona, born in Greenwich on April 26, 1947, participated in the 1960 Olympics preliminaries for the women's freestyle relay, but did not participate in the finals. The team won the Gold that year.  Donna returned to the 1964 Olympics and won a Gold medal for the 400-meter individual medley, and another Gold for the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay.

Favorite Dorothy Hamill was born in Chicago in 1956, but grew up in Riverside,  She won the Gold medal for figure skating at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck. She skated with the Ice Capades from 1977 to 1984.

Carlie Geer, a Greenwich native born in 1957, won a Silver medal in rowing in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Riverside resident Gillian Wachsman (b. 9/19/1966) and Todd Waggoner competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in pair skating.

British skater Charlene von Saher, who spent most of her life in Greenwich, represented Great Britain in the 1994 Winter Olympics. 

Peter Leone was a member of the US Horse Show Jumping Team that won the Silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Courtenay Becker-Day won a Bronze medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in sailing.

Greenwich resident Tricia Byrnes participated in the 1998 and 2002 Olympic snowboarding competition at Nagano, Japan, and Salt Lake City.One of the better-know athletes,

Sue Merz, born here on April 10, 1972, competed in the 1998 Olympics in women's ice hockey, and won a Gold Medal.  She returned to the 2002 Olympics and won the Silver.

Stacey Blume competed in freestyle skiing at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Greenwich-native Helen Resor (b. October 18,1985) was a member of the Women's Ice Hockey team, which won a Silver medal in 2006.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss competed in rowing during the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, China.  The twins attended Harvard, where they developed a social networking website similar to Facebook.

This year, 2014, Kevin Shattenkirk, who was born in Greenwich in 1985, is competing with the Men's Ice Hockey team in Sochi, Russia.   Hopefully, he and his Team will put in a good showing and bring home the Gold!



In 1984, the Olympic Torch was run through Greenwich along the Boston Post Road (Putnam Avenue, Route 1) on its way to Los Angeles.  The runner stopped at West Putnam Avenue to hand off the light.  I was working close by at that time, and called my wife to bring our year-old daughter, Heather, along to see the torch.  The runner allowed my daughter to hold it while we took a picture!  That's the photo above.

Greenwich has also been the site of another well-known torch run.  Runners for the Special Olympics used to carry the torch much like the International Olympics. The Greenwich Police would meet them at the Port Chester line and escort the runners to the Stamford line.  Greenwich resident Paul Morrell often carried the torch.   Greenwich Library was very often a stopping point.  One year I had the pleasure of working as a volunteer at a snack bar at the Special Olympics held at the Yale Bowl.  I was very impressed with the sportsmanship, courage and dedication of these young athletes.  They were athletes in the true sense of the word.

All these Greenwich athletes should be commended for their courage, determination and persistence.  They put in endless hours training for a chance to compete in the Olympics against athletes from all over the World.  For one brief moment, they joined hands in the spirit of  Good Will, cooperation, and sportsmanship.  It certainly makes for a better World.

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Thank you for this great effort.
Not to take away from incredible athletic success...Greenwich residents have played a special role in the "Olympic Movement".
Check out Minot Dole.
His efforts motivated many of us to get involved.
I dedicated my Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid to him. There is a strong Greenwich/Lake Placid connection from the 1932 to 1980 to our effort to get the 2022 Games.


Thank you for that information. I came across several people who contributed in different ways to the Olympics over the years. I tried to cover all the athletes, but someone pointed out that I missed Helen Meany Gravis. She competed in the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics. She won the Gold in 1928. It's very possible I missed others, which I never intended to do. That's why I appreciate feedback I get from my readers. I'm sorry to say the US Men's Hockey Team lost to Canada today by a score of 1 to 0. But I think they'll get a medal because they made it to the semi-finals.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on February 10, 2014 5:20 PM.

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