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Faster, Higher, Stronger: Georgetown Olympians

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area
June 1, 2008
August 31, 2008
Edmund Joseph Minihan (Attended Georgetown Preparatory School, 1899-1902). Gold and bronze medalist in sprint events at the 1900 Games in Paris. Sketched (left) in unidentified newspaper

Edmund Minihan was one of three Georgetown sprinters selected to compete in the Paris Games.  Only seventeen years old in 1900, he had studied at Seton Hall and Fordham College before entering the Prep School.  At the Olympics, he finished third in the 60 meters dash and won the 100 meters handicap race, becoming the first Hoya to win an Olympic gold medal.  After leaving Georgetown, he was on the pitching rosters of the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds.

At the time of the Games, the university=s prep division was still housed on campus.  Although it had formally changed its name to the Georgetown College Preparatory School in 1899, it did not move off campus until 1919 and legal ties to the university were not severed until 1927.

Championnats Internationaux. Official Program

This program was brought back from 1900 Paris Games.  Interestingly, it does not actually contain the word “Olympic.” The Games were greatly overshadowed by the World Exhibition, also held in Paris that summer.  The French Government wrested control of the Games from Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics and president of the International Olympic Committee, but took few steps to market them and put little effort into planning or organization.

Robert L. LeGendre (Ph.B. 1922, D.D.S. 1927) competed in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. Bronze Medalist in the pentathlon at the 1924 Games in Paris. Pictured in Olympic uniform in Ye Domesday Booke, 1921

One of the greatest all-round athletes to represent the University, LeGendre was the mainstay of the Georgetown track team during his undergraduate years.  In 1920, he was the National Pentathlon Champion.  He also accumulated the largest points total in the pentathlon at the Inter-Allied Athletic Games held in Paris at the end of World War I.  In March 1920, he broke his foot but still qualified for the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympic tryouts.  At the Games, he finished fourth in the pentathlon despite that fact that his foot was not fully healed.  LeGendre returned to compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Robert L. LeGendre (Ph.B. 1922, D.D.S. 1927) competed in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. Bronze Medalist in the pentathlon at the 1924 Games in Paris. Pictured in Olympic uniform in Ye Domesday Booke, 1921
Robert L. LeGendre setting the world record for the broad jump at the 1924 Olympics in Paris

After graduating from Georgetown in 1922, LeGendre considered an acting career. Although his training had been limited, he again qualified for the Olympics in 1924.  He placed third in the pentathlon, setting a new world record for the broad jump of 25 feet 6 inches in the process.  Ironically, he had failed to qualify in that individual event at the U.S. Olympic tryouts.

LeGendre became a Lieutenant in the Naval Dental Corps after receiving a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Georgetown in 1927.  He died of bronchial pneumonia in 1931 at age thirty-three.

Erik T. H. Kjellstrom (Ph.B. 1930) competed for Sweden in the 400 meter hurdles at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. Pictured far left in Ye Domesday Booke, 1930

“The gentleman from Europe,” as his yearbook entry describes him, gave of more than just his athletic ability while a Georgetown student.  Kjellstrom was president of the Current Events Club, was on the Business staff of Ye Domesday Booke, and wrote for The Hoya.  The first Hoya to compete in the Olympics for another country, Kjellstrom ran for his native Sweden but did not place in Amsterdam.

Leo Sexton (A.B. 1930), Gold Medalist in the shot put at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles. Pictured in program from 1930 Varsity Dinner

Leo Sexton, Georgetown’s sole representative at the 1932 games, was 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighed 230 lbs.  A good high jumper, discus thrower and decathlete, it was as a shot putter that he truly excelled, winning the Amateur Athletic Union National Shot Put Championships in 1931, 1932 and 1933.  To qualify for the Olympics, he tossed the shot a distance of 52 feet 8 5/8 inches, exceeding the existing world record by half an inch.  He won the shot event in Los Angeles with an Olympic record of 52 feet 6 3/16 inches.