A Walk Down Memory Lane: Remembering the Bay Area’s Greatest Olympians

Olympic Rings, Past Bay Area Olympians

Despite the international controversy and fears relating to Covid-19, it looks like the 2020 Olympics will finally happen in Tokyo, Japan — albeit one year later —from July 23–August 8. The events will be held with a few modifications to ensure safety: Athletes will be tested daily, media members will be advised to eat takeout meals alone, and visitors will be urged to stay off public transit. Nonetheless, there will be 339 events, with 205 countries participating in 33 sports. In celebration of “the thrill of victory and agony of defeat,” we’ll take a brief look at a few past Bay Area Olympians. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know at editorial@marinmagazine.com.

Jennifer Azzi

Medals:

Gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

What:

Among her many achievements, Azzi’s (arguably) greatest came during her senior year at Stanford University. Azzi led her team to an NCAA division 1 basketball championship where they defeated Auburn. Azzi averaged 15 points, six assists and two steals in her final season. Her outstanding play brought her the 1990 Naismith award, which is given to the best player in the country. Check out some of Azzi’s best moments.

And Then…:

Azzi is now a motivational speaker in Mill Valley and runs a basketball camp every summer at Tamalpais High School called Azzi camp.

Matt Biondi

Medals:

Eleven-time medalist, five-time world record holder, competed in 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. In 1988, won five gold medals and set a record for 50-meter freestyle.

What:

One of Biondi’s best moments came during the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials. Biondi broke his own world record for the 100-meter freestyle, finishing in 48.42 seconds. While he spent the first half of the race side by side with his competitors, after turning around Biondi created and held onto a large lead.

And Then…:

He is now a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. He is the director of the International Swimmer’s Alliance and is a math teacher and coach at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles.

Brandi Chastain 

Medals:

Won a gold medal for USA women’s soccer in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Played professionally and was on the U.S. national team from 1988–2004.

What:

Chastain was instrumental for the U.S. soccer team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She played every minute of each game, despite suffering a third brutal knee injury while playing Norway in the semifinal. One of her career-defining moments came in the 1999 FIFA World Cup Final (skip to 5:21)  against China. Chastain scored the penalty shootout goal to clinch the FIFA World Cup for the United States. What made the moment even better was Chastain had missed a penalty kick against China a few months earlier in a game the U.S. lost.

And Then…:

After retiring from soccer, Chastain has remained close to the game through coaching and broadcasting. She is a sports broadcaster and commentator for U.S. soccer, and you will find her on NBC sports for this year’s Olympics.

Natalie Coughlin

Medals:

Twelve-time medalist, including three gold medals for swimming while competing in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

What:

Coughlin had a decisive performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 100meter backstroke final, earning her the gold medal and making her the first woman to ever win six medals for swimming at an Olympics.

And Then…:

Made several television appearances on cooking shows, participated in a season of “Dancing With the Stars,” and has been featured in several sports magazines.

Ann Cuneo Curtis

Ann Cuneo Curtis Bay Area Olympians

Medal:

Two gold medals and one silver medal in freestyle events at the 1948 London Summer Olympics.

What:

Her Olympic moment came in the Women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay team event. When she got in the water as the third leg, the U.S. was in third. Curtis passed the other two opponents, securing the gold medal for the United States. See Curtis win gold for 400m freestyle in 1948.

And Then…:

She later started the Ann Curtis Swim Club in San Rafael. Curtis passed away in 2012.

Michael Johnson

Medals:

Won a gold medal for the 4x400m in Barcelona 1992 Olympics, won two more gold medals for the 200m and the 400m in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and won the 400m in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

What:

At the 1996 ceremony, Johnson’s performance in the 200meter sprint was deemed the best track-and-field moment in the past 25 years. Johnson broke the Olympic and world record for the 200-meter sprint.

And Then…:

Johnson works as an Olympic television commentator for BBC in the United Kingdom. In 2007, he opened Michael Johnson Performance to train young track-and-field athletes.

Jonny Moseley

Medals:

Gold medal for moguls in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.

What:

Although he placed 4th in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics Moguls final, Moseley performed a trick known as the Dinner Roll. What makes his incredible stunt so special is the fact that the trick was not for points; it was a statement.

And Then…:

Moseley was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2006. He has hosted three seasons of the MTV reality show “Real World/Road Rules Challenge,” and narrated and appeared in a number of Warren Miller films. In 2017, he founded plant-based snack food company IOTA Goods, with his wife, Malia, and a friend.

Alex Tarics

Medals:

Was on the Hungarian water polo team that won the gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics.

What:

Tarics scored two goals in the Olympics, and Hungary defeated Germany in the finals for the gold medal.

And Then…:

Tarics helped form the San Francisco architectural engineering company, Reid & Tarics, which designed five BART stations, three University of California San Francisco Medical Center buildings and scores of schools. Tarics passed away in 2016.

Archie Williams 

Medals:

A gold medal for the 400-meter run at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics.

What:

His impressive 400meter run at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, which was attended by Adolf Hitler, who did not acknowledge his win because he was African-American.

And Then…:

Williams later became a U.S. Air Force officer and beloved math teacher at Drake High School in Fairfax, which is being renamed in his honor. He passed away in 1993.


How to help:

Consider supporting one of these local nonprofits that urgently need support during the pandemic.


More from Marin:


Ian Larned Marin InternIan Larned is an intern at Marin Magazine. Born and raised in San Francisco, he attended Marin Academy in San Rafael and is currently a rising Junior at Colorado College majoring in Economics, Business and Society with a minor in Journalism. He enjoys playing sports or doing anything outdoors.