Top 10 Philadelphia Olympians of all-time

Tara Lipinski, now a figure skating commentator for NBC, won a gold medal at age 15 for Team USA in 1998. Credit: Getty Images
Tara Lipinski, now a figure skating commentator for NBC, won a gold medal at age 15 for Team USA in 1998. Credit: Getty Images

There may not be many headliners from Philadelphia competing in the Sochi games this month, but the city and surrounding area has a rich history of not only contributing Olympians, but also collecting hardware.

Philly was once a haven for rowers, and after that a powerhouse for medal-winning boxers.

More recently, some great basketball talent competing for Team USA has traced its roots to the City of Brotherly Love.

1 Tara Lipinski

Lipinski was born in Philadelphia and spent her childhood in Washington Township in South Jersey.

Her lustrous figure skating career reached its pinnacle in 1998, when Lipinski won the gold medal in Nagano at the age of 15.

Her ascension to the top of the figure skating world helped the sport to reach record heights in the late 90s and early 2000s.

2. John B. Kelly Sr.

Known as Jack Kelly, the Philadelphia born oarsmen is one of the most decorated men in the history of the sport of rowing.

The father of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, Kelly won two gold medals in Antwerp in 1920 in single and double scull, and a gold in double scull in 1924. He learned how to row on the Schuylkill River and once won 126 consecutive single scull races.

3. Dawn Staley

Philadelphia native and one time Temple women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley won a gold medal with team USA in 1996, 2000 and 2004. She is also one of the most accomplished WNBA players in history.

4. Kobe Bryant

One of the all-time greats in the NBA, Bryant was born in Philadelphia and went to Lower Merion High School. As an Olympian, Bryant helped Team USA win gold in Beijing and London. He also has five NBA titles.

 5. David Berkoff

Berkoff, currently the head swim coach at William Penn Charter School, has won four Olympic swimming medals during his career. He is known for his underwater start, a start that earned him two goal medals for the backstroke leg of the 4×100 meter relay teams in 1988 and 1992. He also has an individual silver and bronze for the 100 back stroke in the same two Olympics.

6. Tyrell Biggs

Known as Styrofoam, Biggs won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics in the heavyweight division. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound fighter won 30 of 40 professional fights, with one of his losses coming to Mike Tyson. In his career, Biggs posted an impressive 108-6-4 career mark as an amateur.

7.Bill Toomey

Toomey was born in Philadelphia and was an all-around athlete, earning the goal medal for the decathlon in the 1968 games in Mexico City. He was also named the top American amateur athlete 1969.

8. Elizabeth Becker-Pinkston

Becker-Pinkston was born in Philly and won a gold and silver medal for diving in Paris in 1924 and a second gold in Amsterdam in 1928.

9. Joe Verdeur

Verdeur’s Philadelphia ties run deep. The North Catholic High School and La Salle University Grad won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke with a new Olympic record in 1948.

10. Meldrick Taylor

Taylor won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, fighting in the featherweight division. In his career, Taylor won 38 of 47 matches, with 20 knockout victories.

Follow Metro Philadelphia Sports Editor Evan Macy on Twitter @Evan_Macy.


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