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Villanova Olympians: 1908-2021

The summer Olympic Games began Friday, July 23, and will continue through Aug. 8. To celebrate the games, Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing, shared an article highlighting Villanova’s famed Irish Pipeline. Proctor writes, “In all, 66 Villanovans have competed representing 15 different countries, winning 10 gold and five silver medals in the Olympics, and the University has been represented in every Summer Olympics since 1948.”

Four Villanovans will continue this tradition, participating in the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan: Jay Wright (Men’s Basketball, USA) Summer Rappaport (Triathlon, USA) Patrick Tiernan (Track, Australia) and Síofra Cléirigh Büttner (Track, Ireland).

View the complete list of Villanova Olympians below (Source: VU Hoops). Keep scrolling for some images of former Olympians (courtesy of the Villanova University Archives).

List of Villanova Olympians

Year Event Villanovan Medal
1908 Track & Field J.F. O’Connell
1948 Track & Field Cummin Clancy
1948 Track & Field John Joe Barry
1948 Track & Field Jimmy Reardon
1948 Track & Field Browning Ross
1948 Track & Field George Guida
1952 Track & Field Browning Ross
1956 Track & Field Charles Jenkins, Sr. GOLD Medal in 400 Meters & 1,600 Meter Relay
1956 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1956 Track & Field Ron Delany GOLD Medal in 1,500 Meters
1956 Track & Field Phil Reavis
1956 Baseball Ken Lowe
1960 Track & Field Don Bragg GOLD Medal in Pole Vault
1960 Track & Field Alex Breckenridge
1960 Track & Field Frank Budd
1960 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1960 Track & Field Ron Delany
1964 Track & Field Noel Carroll
1964 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1964 Track & Field Paul Drayton GOLD Medal in 400 Meter Relay; SILVER Medal in 200 Meters
1964 Track & Field Vic Zwolak
1964 Rowing William Knecht GOLD Medal
1968 Track & Field Noel Carroll
1968 Track & Field Marty Liquori
1968 Track & Field Frank Murphy
1968 Track & Field Dave Patrick
1968 Track & Field Larry James GOLD Medal in 1,600 Meter Relay; SILVER Medal in 400 Meters
1968 Track & Field Erv Hall SILVER Medal in 110 Meter Hurdles
1968 Swimming Tom Aretz
1968 Swimming Olaf G. von Schilling
1972 Track & Field Frank Murphy
1972 Track & Field John Hartnett
1972 Track & Field Donal Walsh
1972 Swimming Tom Aretz
1972 Swimming Olaf G. von Schilling
1972 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1976 Track & Field Glenn Bogue
1976 Track & Field Dick Buerkle
1976 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1976 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1980 Track & Field Dick Buerkle
1980 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1980 Track & Field Don Paige
1980 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1984 Track & Field Sydney Maree
1984 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1984 Track & Field John Marshall
1984 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1984 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
1984 Handball Steve Kirk
1984 Basketball George Raveling – Coach
1988 Track & Field Sydney Maree
1988 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1988 Track & Field Gerry O’Reilly
1988 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1988 Track & Field Salaam Gariba
1988 Track & Field Vicki Huber
1988 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
1988 Handball Steve Kirk
1988 Basketball George Raveling – Coach
1992 Track & Field Charles “Chip” Jenkins, Jr. GOLD Medal in 1,600 Meter Relay
1992 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1992 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
1992 Track & Field Salaam Gariba
1992 Swimming Lisa Flood
1996 Track & Field Maulan Byron
1996 Track & Field Kim Certain
1996 Track & Field Kate Fonshell
1996 Track & Field Vicki Huber
1996 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1996 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
1996 Swimming Kire Filipovski
1996 Swimming Lisa Flood
2000 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan SILVER Medal in 5,000 Meters
2000 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2000 Baseball Mike Neill GOLD Medal
2000 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
2000 Swimming Maddy Crippen
2004 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
2004 Track & Field Carmen Douma
2004 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2004 Track & Field Carrie Tollefson
2008 Track & Field Adrian Blincoe
2008 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2008 Swimming Kristina Lennox
2012 Basketball Lisa Karcic
2012 Basketball Andrew Sullivan
2012 Track & Field Sheila Reid
2012 Track & Field Marina Muncan
2012 Cycling Dotsie Bausch SILVER Cycling Team Pursuit
2016 Track & Field Sam McEntee


George Guida, 1948.


Vicki Huber, 1989.


Eamonn Coghlan.


Jen Rhines, 1996.


Lisa Flood, 1994.


Kate Fonshell, 1991.


Charles Jenkins.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.





The Origins of the Olympic Games

Ancient Olympic Runners

“Ancient Olympic Runners” by History Maps is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

With the arrival of one of the most anticipated events of the summer, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, people from all over the world are anxiously watching the competitions unfold.

A wide variety of sports are being played, from well-known ones like swimming/diving, gymnastics, basketball and cycling, in addition to less familiar events like sailing, shooting, sport climbing, and table tennis. Although the Games were delayed from 2020 to this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are an impressive number of athletes participating. According to NBC Sports, “there are 206 National Olympic Committees with a projected 11,360 athletes at the Tokyo games.” Each athlete is hoping that their training pays off with a medal win in their respective sport.

As in years past, Villanova is well represented in the summer Olympic Games. The sacrifice and dedication of our fellow Wildcats have demonstrated to be able to compete on this worldwide stage is undeniable.

The Olympic Games have long been a staple of our culture, but did you ever wonder where it all began? What is known as the “modern” Olympics began in 1896 in Athens, Greece; however, that is not when this prestigious competition actually originated.

Fast Facts about the Ancient Olympic Games:

  • The first recorded date of the Olympics is 776 BC in Olympia in the district of Elis in Greece.
  • The Games were held in honor of the king of the gods, Zeus.
  • Greek males were permitted to compete; women could not attend or compete.
  • The original competition was a foot race, but the Games evolved over time, with more sporting events added each year.
  • Running, jumping, throwing, boxing, and chariot racing were common games.
  • Pankration (a brutal combination of boxing and wrestling) was also popular. “No biting and no gouging” were the only rules of this game.
  • Competitors were naked.
  • Original prize for winners was an olive wreath.
  • 40,000 spectators attended the Olympics at the height of their popularity.
  • Winning athletes were like modern-day celebrities, earning recognition and other perks.
  • The Games were banned by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in 394 AD.
  • The Olympic Games were resurrected in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin as a way to bring nations together to celebrate sport and friendship.
  • The first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix (France).

Dig Deeper: 

Be sure to check out some of Falvey’s helpful online resources to learn more about the history of the ancient Olympics!

(The above facts were drawn from these resources.)

Global Olympics: Historical and Sociological Studies of the Modern Games (Kevin Young and Kevin B. Wamsley)

The Olympic Games Explained: A Student Guide to the Evolution of the Modern Olympic Games (Jim Parry, Vassil Girginov, and Craig Reedie)

The Palgrave Handbook of Olympic Studies (Helen Lenskyj and Stephen Wagg)

Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement (Bill Mallon and Jeroen Heijmans)

The Olympics,  A Very Peculiar History (David Arscott)

A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient Olympics (Neil Faulkner)

Olympia: The Story of the Ancient Olympic Games (Robin Waterfield)

The First Olympics (Betsy Carpenter)

The Modern Olympic Games and their Model in Antiquity (Louis Callebat)

Onward to the Olympics: Historical Perspectives on the Olympic Games (Stephen R. and Gerald P. Schaus)

When were the first Olympics? (Paul Christesen)

First Olympian (Cameron Balbirnie, Alexander Street Video)

The Real Olympics (PBS, Alexander Street Video)

Welcome to the Ancient Olympic Games (International Olympic Committee)

Let the Games Begin: The First Olympics (National Geographic)


headshot picture of regina duffy

Regina Duffy is a Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.





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Photo Friday: Ron Delany Wins Olympic Gold in 1956


Photo courtesy of University Archives.

Ron Delany, part of Villanova’s famed Irish Pipeline, sprints to gold in the 1500 meters event at the 1956 Summer Olympics setting a new Olympic record. He went on to compete in the 1960 Olympics, finishing sixth.



Four Villanovans Chase Their Olympic Dreams

By Shawn Proctor

All eyes are on Tokyo as the 2020 Summer Games opening ceremonies commence tonight. Four Villanovans will be among the athletes competing for gold, adding to 108 years of Villanova glory at the Olympics.

Marcus O'Sullivan competes in 1982, two years before competing in the Olympics, his first of four..

Marcus O’Sullivan, part of the legendary Irish Pipeline, races in 1982, two years before competing in the Summer Olympics, his first of four appearances. O’Sullivan is now Head Coach of Villanova Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field.

In all, 66 Villanovans have competed representing 15 different countries, winning 10 gold and five silver medals in the Olympics, and the University has been represented in every Summer Olympics since 1948. For more than five decades, beginning that year, this running dominance was, in large part, powered by the famed Irish Pipeline, which saw an influx of Irish runners competing in U.S. collegiate track and field. This included, in all, 715 athletes who enrolled in programs in all 50 states, and made Villanova a destination for the fleetest of feet.

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, the newest member of this pipeline, will represent Ireland in the 800-meters event. Australian Patrick Tiernan takes to the track for his second Olympics where he will run for gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters races, only the 22nd Villanovan to compete in multiple Olympics. “Every young athlete dreams about the chance to represent their country at the Olympics,” Tiernan told Villanova Magazine in 2016.

Sports writer Joe Boozell once quipped, “Water is wet, and Villanova is good at basketball.” This summer will add to Villanova’s Olympic memories on the hardwood, which most recently saw alumnus Kyle Lowry and Jay Wright win gold as player and coach, respectively, in the 2016 Olympics. Wright takes up the clipboard again as Assistant Coach of the USA Men’s Basketball Team, guiding a team brimming with veteran NBA talent.

Lastly, Summer (Cook) Rappaport will swim, bike, and run against the world’s best as she represents the United States in the triathlon, both in women’s individual and mixed relay.

Learn more…


Shawn Proctor Head shot
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.

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Throwback Thursday: Villanovan Phil Reavis, High Jumper in the 1956 Summer Olympics

Phil Reavis High Jump

Photo courtesy of University Archives.

“Track and field was the premiere sport at Villanova in 1950. That era alone boasted many Olympians, starting the tradition of Villanova greatness at the epitome of competition.”

“Phil Reavis was particularly special. Reavis, born and raised in Somerville, Mass., found himself competing in the great sport. He did some miles and competed on relays, but eventually, found his niche in the high jump.”

“Back then, high jumpers didn’t clear the bar as they do now either—they did the western roll and not the Fosbury flop, as most high jumpers do today.” – Excerpt from “Honoring An Alumnus Trailblazer: Phil Reavis,” written by Samuel Ellison, published in The Villanovan, February 21, 2013.

Special note: Samuel Ellison, author of the article, was a Men’s Track & Field All-American and Fulbright winner.

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Learn to fence (and more!)

The London Olympics officially open tonight and just this week we’ve digitized a short book on fencing and other sports. The lengthy title of this book seems like it’s in inverse proportion to its diminutive size: How to Fence: containing full instruction for fencing and the use of the broadsword also instruction in archery, described with twenty-one practical illustrations. A complete book. And that’s not even all there is in the book!

Illustration of "The Engage" (fencing position)
“The Engage” (fencing position).

At just about 60 pages, this “complete book” includes instructions for fencing (p. 5), archery (p. 43), hurdle racing (p. 57), pole-vaulting (p. 58), hammer throwing (p. 59), and shot put (p. 60). The “practical illustrations” only appear in the fencing section, however, so you must use your imagination for the other sports (or perhaps watch some Olympic athletes in the next few days).

Photo of the books we rescued

The books we rescued.

This book was part of a collection of extremely fragile late-19th- and early-20th-century publications that we recently found in a forgotten corner of the library basement, where they would have been destined for the trash if we hadn’t saved them. Many of these publications are extremely rare and have not been digitized elsewhere, so we are excited to be preserving and sharing them. Among these books are short plays, humorous anecdotes, and “dime novels.” We’ll be posting more about some of these titles as we digitize them and Demian will be adding some to our ongoing Project Gutenberg proofreading project, so stay tuned for more!

P.S.: For more Olympic spirit, you can read about Villanova athletes in the Olympics in our digitized collection of The Villanovan. For instance, in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, held in Australia from November 22 to December 8, two Nova track stars (Charley Jenkins and Ron Delany) brought home 3 gold medals — making Villanova track coach “Jumbo” Jim Elliott “the first American college coach to produce two Olympic winners” (p. 1). You can find more articles by searching the Digital Library’s Villanovan collection.



Last Modified: July 27, 2012