Georgians have had a prominent place on the United States teams that have competed in the Summer Olympics games through the years. At least 100 individuals from the Peach State have worn the red, white and blue in the competition, but unfortunately Macon has not had much of a presence.
According to my research, Brenda (Cliette) Thomas, who was a track star at Northeast and then at Florida State, is the only Macon athlete included on a U.S. team, and that was an as alternate in the 1984 games in Los Angeles. While she attended the games and was on standby, she did not compete.
(The late Antonio Pettigrew, who went to Southwest, won a gold medal in the 4x400-meter relay in 2000 but gave up the medal after admitting to doping).
Thomas was one of Americas best in the 1980s. She won gold medals at the World University Games and the Pan American Games and was a three-time All-American at the NCAA championships in 1983. The following year, while leading FSU to the outdoor national championships, she was a four-time All-American. She also won gold at the U.S. Olympic Festival and the Goodwill games. During her college days, she was named FSUs Female Athlete of the Year.
She has been selected for induction into both the FSU and Macon sports falls of fame. Thomas has worked with the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department for the past 22 years and currently is a Lieutenant in the Fire Prevention Bureau.
Surprisingly, Macon has had a representative compete twice in the Winter Olympics. Chip Minton was on the 1994 and 1998 teams in bobsledding. He was a member of the four-man U.S. team that finished fifth in the 1998 games at Nagano, Japan.
The closest Macon came to having a competing Summer Olympian was in the 1976 games in Montreal when Mercers Cindy Brogdon of Buford was a member of the silver medal winning U.S. womens basketball squad. Her selection to the U.S. team turned out to be a bad thing for Mercer as she was roommate of Pat (Head) Summitt, who had just taken over as head womens coach at Tennessee and Summitt convinced her to go play for her in Knoxville. Brogdon had been a Kodak All-American while playing for the Mercer Teddy Bears.
Two Middle Georgians were a part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow games in protest of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The late Jimmy Carnes, a native of Eatonton was the coach of the track and field team that year, and Grays Al Wood, then a star at North Carolina, was selected to be a member of the mens basketball team.
The most decorated Olympian from Middle Georgia is Viennas Roger Kingdom. He captured gold medals in the 110-meter high hurdles at both the 1984 games in Los Angeles and in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. He set a then world record of 12.92 in that event in 1989 in Zurich, Switzerland.s
Kingdom, who signed a football scholarship to Pittsburgh after finishing Dooly County, still lives in the Pittsburgh area in Monroeville. He is currently the director of track and field and cross country and the mens and womens head track coach at California University of Pennsylvania.
Another Middle Georgian worthy of mention is swimmer Angel Martino, who grew up in Americus and now resides in Milledgeville. She was a member of three Olympic gold medal winning relay teams and took three bronze medals in individual events. She competed in both the 1992 games in Barcelona and the 1996 games in Atlanta.
(A correction in regard to last weeks no-hit column. Leroy Geyman informed me that Kent Mercker had a no-hitter for the Braves during the 1994 season, blanking the Dodgers 6-0).
Contact Bobby Pope at email@example.com