Gala celebrates Olympic athletes’ accomplishments

Mary Russell

The University’s former Olympic athletes will be honored this weekend at a formal event at the Hilton Philadelphia Hotel.

The Olympic tradition got underway with J. F. O’Connell at the 1908 London Olympics. The next Wildcats to compete at the Olympic level were John Joe Barry, Cummin Clancy, George Guida, James Reardon and Browning Ross.

Since then the University has been represented at every summer Olympic competition. The 2004 summer games featured four University alumnae. Including Carmen Douma-Hussar, who represented Canada, and Sonia O’Sullivan who represented Ireland.

“These remarkable athletes have represented Villanova on one of the biggest stages in all of sport: the Olympic Games,” Athletic Director Vince Nicastro said.

The University’s medal count totals nine golds and four silvers. Included in the count are the gold medals won by Charles Jenkins in 1956 and his son Chip in 1992, both track team members at the University. In total, the University alumni have competed in seven sports and represented nine different countries at the Olympics.

The Olympic gala has been in the works for years, ever since members of the university decided to pay tribute to the outstanding record of University athletes. The event to be held this Saturday, has attracted substantial intererest, with upwards of 35 former Olympians returning, as well as former coaches and supporters.

“Villanova has one of the richest Olympic traditions of any university in the nation,” Nicastro said. “We are excited to be able to honor them at this very special event.”