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In Tokyo, IU Olympians Prove Mettle, Win Medals

Photograph of a female diver, upside down in mid-dive, wearing a red-and-white striped IU swimsuit. The IU swimming pool and facility can be seen in the background.
IU diver and Olympic athlete Jessica Parratto. Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

There was an easy trick to spot an IU Olympian at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo: Where there was a pool, there was most likely a Hoosier. Swimming, diving, water polo—Hoosiers vied for medals in each sport. What’s more, IU had just as strong a presence poolside, with two coaches leading teams: Drew Johansen, head coach of the U.S. Olympic diving team, and Ray Looze, assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic swimming team.

But IU Olympians didn’t just make a splash in the pool. They also competed on the tennis court and soccer field. In total, IU’s 16 Olympians represented six countries (spanning five continents) and won a combined 10 medals—adding a fitting new chapter to IU’s legacy of Olympic greatness.

Zach Apple
🥇Gold, 400-Meter Freestyle Relay
🥇Gold, 800-Meter Freestyle Relay
Team USA

Andrew Capobianco
🥈Silver, 3-Meter Synchronized Springboard Diving
Team USA

Michael Hixon
🥈Silver, 3-Meter Synchronized Springboard Diving
Team USA

Lilly King
🥉Bronze, 100-Meter Breaststroke
🥈Silver, 200-Meter Breaststroke
🥈Silver, 400-Meter Medley Relay
Team USA

Jessica Parratto
🥈Silver, 10-Meter Synchronized Platform Diving
Team USA

Blake Pieroni
🥇Gold, 400-Meter Freestyle Relay
🥇Gold, 400-Meter Medley Relay
Team USA

Two black-and-white photos side by side. At left, a photo of male track athlete crouched in the “set” position and focusing intently on the track ahead. At right, a photo of a male track athlete smiling and looking into the distance while wearing a track uniform that says “Indiana” across the chest.
From left, Milt Campbell and Greg Bell. Photos courtesy of IU Archives.

A Tradition of Firsts

At the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, IU’s own Milt Campbell became the first African American to win gold in the decathlon. Campbell was joined at the games by fellow IU great Greg Bell, who became the first native Hoosier to take home an individual gold medal in track and field for long jump.

Of his Olympic-sized ambitions, Campbell once recounted, “I remember a conversation I had when I was 14 with the track coach at Plainfield High [in New Jersey]. And he asked me what I wanted to be. I told him, ‘The best athlete in Plainfield.’ Then it became ‘the best in New Jersey,’ and ‘the best in America,’ and ‘the best in the world.'”

True to form, he was all that and more—including a Hoosier.

This article was originally published in the 2021 issue of Imagine magazine.

Written By

A. Price

A resident of the Hoosier state since grade school, Alex forged a friendship with “tried and true” IU upon becoming a writer at the IU Foundation.

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