Athletics In the News

On the Bulldog Beat: Red and Black Takes Gold

With 10 medals across four Olympics, Allison Schmitt is the most decorated Bulldog in Olympics history. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 2014.

Athletes from the University of Georgia have excelled on the Olympic stage for nearly 90 years. Here's hoping the 2024 Olympics turn UGA gold again.

1936, Berlin
One of UGA’s first Olympians was also its first gold medalist. Forrest “Spec” Towns was one of three Bulldogs to compete in the 1936 Summer Olympics. He set a world record of 14.1 seconds on his way to gold in the 110-meter hurdles. Later that year, Towns lowered his world record to 13.7 seconds, a mark he held until 1950.

In 1938, Towns returned to the University of Georgia to serve as head track and field coach, a position he held until 1975. UGA’s Spec Towns Track facility is named in his honor.

Forrest “Spec” Towns was an Olympic teammate of Jesse Owens. He is also the University of Georgia’s first gold medalist. He won the 110-meter hurdles at the 1936 Berlin games. Following his Olympic career, Towns coached the UGA track and field team. The university’s track is named in his honor.

1984, Los Angeles
The LA Games marked the first year UGA athletes represented countries other than the United States. They competed for Antigua, Canada, Jamaica, and the Bahamas and accounted for more than half the Bulldogs in Los Angeles. UGA athletes won three medals in 1984, including the first won by an international athlete: Norman Edwards’ silver in the 4×100 meter relay for Jamaica.

1992, Barcelona
Gwen Torrence’s performance in Spain solidified her as one of the world’s best sprinters. She won three Olympic medals (two gold, one silver) and would add another gold (in the 4×100 meter relay) and a bronze four years later in Atlanta on her way to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

1996, Atlanta
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics marked a bit of a homecoming for Cairo, Georgia, native and Bulldog legend Teresa Edwards. She delivered the Olympic Oath on behalf of all athletes at the Opening Ceremonies (on her 32nd birthday). And then she took the court. Following a disappointing (for them) bronze medal in 1992, Team USA, led by Edwards and Bulldog teammate Katrina McClain refocused and steamrolled the world-class competition on the way to Olympic gold. Edwards would finish her Hall of Fame career with four gold medals and a bronze. Fellow Hall-of-Famer McClain earned two golds and a bronze.

In 2012, Edwards became Chef de Mission for the U.S. Olympic Team and served as a liaison between her team and the Olympic committees, an incredible honor for Olympic athletes.

At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Teresa Edwards takes a moment following the game where she won her fourth gold medal in women’s basketball–the most golds of any UGA athlete. Edwards, who also won an Olympic bronze, is a Bulldog legend.

2004, Athens
Swimmers Kara Lynn Joyce and Amanda Weir won silvers in both the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relays. Bahamian track star Debbie Ferguson won her third medal (and first individual medal, a bronze in the 200-meter dash) in as many Olympics. But perhaps the most impressive Bulldog performance was by an athlete who had yet to don the red and black. Gymnast Courtney Kupets won an individual bronze on the uneven bars and a team silver in 2004. The following year, Kupets entered UGA as a freshman and led the Bulldogs to four consecutive national titles in women’s gymnastics. Kupets—now Courtney Kupets Carter—coached at UGA from 2017 to 2024.

2012, London
Swimmer Allison Schmitt won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, but London is where she really broke out. Schmitt set an

Since the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, UGA athletes have won 70 Olympic medals. The majority have come in swimming. Of those 70, 60 have gone to athletes competing for the United States.

Olympic record in the 200m freestyle and earned five medals—three golds, one silver, and one bronze—in London, the most won by any Bulldog in a single Olympics.

Over the next two Olympics, Schmitt would add four more medals (including a relay gold) to her collection for a total of 10—the most of any UGA athlete. Schmitt was recently named to the SEC’s 2023 Class of Women’s Legends, and she delivered the Spring Commencement address for the university’s Class of 2024.

2020, Tokyo
UGA athletes made headlines at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games. Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas defended her Olympic title in the 400 meters. Lynna Irby won two relay medals (one of them gold) on the track, and Chase Kalisz won a gold in the pool in the 400m individual medley.

2024, Paris
Miller-Uibo will return in Paris but possibly in a new event. With Olympic trials and qualifiers taking place around the world, the Bulldogs joining her have yet to be determined. But one hope is for sure: that those gold, silver, and bronze medals in the City of Light will have a bit of a red and black glow.

Allison Schmitt delivered the 2024 Spring Commencement address in Sanford Stadium.

Bulldogs at the Paralympics

The 2024 Paralympic Games will take place in Paris from August 28 to September 8. The competition will represent another opportunity for UGA alumni athletes to bring home medals.

Goalball star Amanda Dennis with the silver medal she won at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Two Bulldogs won medals at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. Amanda Dennis is a two-time Paralympic medalist. She won a silver medal in goalball. Previously, Dennis was a member of the US women’s goalball team that won bronze in Rio. She was named to the 2024 Paralympic team earlier this year. Sprinter Jarryd Wallace won a bronze in the 200-meter dash in the T64 class.

Both Wallace and Dennis are stars in their sports, having won a combined seven golds, two silvers, and one bronze in their respective sports in their respective world championships and Parapan Games.

Read more about Dennis and Wallace in Georgia Magazine.

Amanda Dennis: Silver Lining

Jarryd Wallace: Running Through Adversity

Jarryd Wallace won a bronze medal at the 2020 Paralympics. For years, he has trained at the Spec Towns Track on UGA’s campus. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)