Chicago Ranked 2nd for Most Olympic Athletes

Since the first modern Games in 1896, a total of 272 Olympic athletes have been born in Chicago

There must be something in the water in Chicago.

The Windy City is the birthplace of the second highest number of Olympic athletes in the country, following New York City, statistics show.

According to a database used to track athletes since the first modern Games in 1896, a total of 272 Olympic athletes have been born in Chicago.

New York historically claims the most, with 406 athletes born there since the Olympics began, and Los Angeles follows third with 202 athletes.

"Chicago is just a great Olympic city," said David Giglio, associate director of marketing activation for the U.S Olympics Committee.

Of the 272 athletes born in Chicago, not all ended up playing on behalf of the United States, Giglio points out. There are some who played for Hungary, Japan and Sweden among others.

But their Chicago roots are unwavering.

"The passion of sports in Chicago is second to none," Giglio said.

The Road to Rio Tour recently made a stop at the Taste of Chicago to get fans excited for the Aug. 5-21 Summer Games in Rio. This tour featured appearances by local Olympians as well as virtual and interactive activities.

“We wanted to find cities with strong Olympic and Paralympic ties,” Giglio said.

Chicago’s tie to the Olympics doesn't end with its athletes.

In 2009, the city submitted its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics as well as plans to build a $91 million Olympic Village. Rio, Madrid and Tokyo also competed to host the Games, and Chicago was out in the first round of voting by the International Olympic Committee. 

Years after the elimination, Chicago continues to pay for the property where the Olympic Village would have been and will continue to do so until 2024. 

Even though Chicago did not get the chance to host the 2016 Summer Games, successful athletes have represented the Chicago area in the 2012 London Summer Games and will again this year in Rio. 

In 2012, Amy LePeilbet of Crystal Lake was a part of the U.S. Women's soccer gold medal team after defeating Japan. Winnetka native Connor Dwyer earned the gold medal in the 4x200-meter Freestyle Relay Final at the London Games.

This year, the excitement continues at the Rio Games.

Dwyer will again vye for a medal during the 2016 Games along with Glenview swimmer Olivia Smoliga and Naperville's Kevin Cordes. 

Kent Farrington of the U.S. Men's Equestrian Team was also born in Chicago. He has become one of the best riders in the world, winning the 2011 Pan-american Games and becoming the first American to claim the Rolex International Jumping Riders Club Rolex Top Ten Final in 2015. 

Add to that a number of local gymnasts taking place in the rhytmic event, Lockport-native and wrestler Haley Augello, track-and-field star Evan Jager and dozens of others. 

Among other things unique to the well-known Olympic city, U.S. Soccer has called Chicago home since 1991 when it moved here from Colorado. Eight trials have also been held by the U.S. Olympic Team in Chicago dating back to 1928, according to Giglio.

"We moved here in 1991 basically on an invitation from the city of Chicago," said Logan Buckley digital content coordinator for the U.S Soccer Federation. "We took them up on the offer and it's actually been a lot easier to get around traveling."

With Chicago being a major airline hub, with how much U.S Soccer has to travel it is easier being located in Chicago versus other major cities, according to Buckley. The staff has also grown not only as a result of soccer getting bigger in the last few years but also because of the space the buildings have provided. 

The Windy City has it all.

"Chicago is unique where they have both winter and summer sports and when you put it all together it’s a great city and great platform for athletes to develop in a number of sports," Giglio said.

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