This is an interesting question. There have been two Olympians with Wilmington roots.
First and foremost, basketball superstar Michael Jordan won two Olympic gold medals for basketball in 1984 and 1992. Jordan led a team of college players in 1984, then was on the 1992 “Dream Team” which also won gold. Jordan is one of only three American basketball players (along with Chris Mullins and Patrick Ewing) to win Olympic gold medals as both amateurs and professionals.
The other Olympian with Wilmington connections is boxer “Sugar” Ray Leonard. Leonard’s ties to the Port City are tenuous at best, as he only lived in Wilmington for a few years when he was very young. But Leonard did win a gold medal for boxing in 1976 in the light welterweight class.
While Wilmington has produced several other notable athletes, they haven’t been Olympians. Chris Wilcox, Kevin Whitted, Cedric Simmons, and many other basketball players didn’t make the Olympic squad. Boubacar Aw, a Sengalese native who grew up in eastern Columbus County, didn’t make the Olympics either.
Althea Gibson could have been a historic African-American women’s tennis Olympian, but the sport only returned to the Summer Olympics in 1988, long after her career had ended.
And, most recently, New Hanover alum Cari Blalock came up short in the Olympic swimming trials this summer.
Date posted: August 9, 2012
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