From the earliest days of the modern Olympics, Michigan athletes have been breaking records. And they've made an impact.


Shot putter Ralph Rose, for example, who won golds in the 1904, 1908 and 1912 Olympics, established the American tradition of not dipping the U.S. flag to foreign leaders during the Olympic ceremonies. In a supposed nod to his Irish roots, he refused to do so for the King of England while carrying "Old Glory" at the 1908 Olympics. More recently, Livonia native Sheila Taormina became the only woman ever to compete in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and modern pentathlon) at three separate games.

Through the years Michigan has born (and raised) champions in sports as diverse as ice skating, boxing, hurdles and beach volleyball. Scroll through the photos below to see a few of the athletes who have made the Great Lakes State so great when it comes to Olympic competition.

If we missed your favorite Michigan Olympian, let us know in the comments!

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  • Jamison "Jam" Handy

    Jamison "Jam" Handy (1886-1983) earned a bronze medal for finishing third in the 440-yard breaststroke in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics. In 1924 he competed in the Olympics again, this time on the U.S. water polo squad. Later in his life, he was also a pioneer in the commercial use of film. Although born in Philadelphia, Penn., Handy attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. (Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

  • Eddie Tolan

    Eddie Tolan (1908-1967) was the first African-American athlete to win two Olympic gold medals. He set an Olympic record in 1932 with a 100-meter sprint that took just 10.3 seconds and tied the world record. He also won the 200 meter that year in Los Angeles, setting an Olympic record at 21.2 seconds. Sadly, he fell on hard times after his win and for a while earned his living as a vaudevillian -- teaming up for an act with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. He was born in Denver, but moved to Detroit at the age of 15 and attended Cass Technical High School. (Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

  • Tara Lipinski

    Tara Lipinski (born 1982) took home the gold in ladies single figure skating during the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Born in Philadelphia, Penn., she later moved with her mother to Bloomfield Hills to train with noted American figure skating coach Richard Callaghan. After winning the Olympics, Lipinski became a professional skater and an occasional television actress. (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

  • Hayes Jones

    Although small for a hurdler at 5'10", Hayes Jones (born 1938), nevertheless cast an impressive shadow over the sport during the 1960s. Jones, who grew up in Pontiac, Michigan won an Olympic bronze in 1960 and a gold in 1964. After retiring from sports, he entered the world of politics, serving as the deputy director of the Oakland County Department of Community and Economic Development and later as the general executive of the SMART bus system. (George Silk/Time Life/Getty Images)

  • Henry Carr

    Henry Carr (born 1942) took home two golds in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, winning the 200 meter and helping set a new world record fro the 1,600 meter relay race. He later played football professionally with the New York Giants. Born in Montgomery, Ala., Carr attended high school in Detroit. (Allsport USA via Getty Images)

  • Norbert Schemansky

    In 1964 Detroit-born Norbert Schemansky (born 1924) became the first weightlifter to win four Olympic medals. He took a silver in 1948, a gold in 1952, and bronze medals in 1960 and 1964. (PNA Rota/Getty Images)

  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White

    Meryl Davis (born 1987) and Charlie White (born 1987) won the silver medal for pairs ice dancing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. At the time, both were students at University of Michigan. Davis was born in West Bloomfield, White in Royal Oak. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Sheila Young

    Sheila Young (born 1950) is a track cyclist and speed skater from Birmingham, Mich. In 1976 she won three Olympic speedskating medals including a gold in the 500-meter sprint. (STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Mike Modano

    Mike Modano (born 1970) played on the U.S. Olympic hockey team in the 1998, 2002, 2006 Winter Olympics, helping them bring home a silver in Salt Lake City in 2002. Not just an Olympic star, Modano is also a legend in the world of hockey. A Stanley Cup winner, he played for most of his career with the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, but played his last season for the Detroit Red Wings in 2010-2011. Modano holds the NHL records for goals, points and games played for an American-born player. He is a native of Livonia. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

  • Karch Kiraly

    The Volleyball Hall of Fame called him "the greatest men's volleyball player of the sport's first century," when he was inducted in 2001. Charles Frederick "Karch" Kiraly (born 1960) of Jackson holds the distinction of being the only Olympian to ever win a gold in both indoor and beach volleyball. He earned his indoor gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 and brought home his gold for beach volleyball at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

  • Sheila Taormina

    A native of Livonia, Sheila Taormina (born 1969) is the only woman to ever compete in three different sports (swimming, triathlon and modern pentathlon) in three different Olympic Games. She competed in four Summer Olympics from 1996 - 2008, winning a a gold medal in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay in Atlanta in 1996. Taormina has an MBA and has experience working as a professional in the Detroit auto industry. Currently she works as a motivational speaker. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • Angela Ruggiero

    She has served a vital role in the USA Olympic hockey team's defensive lineup for more than a decade. Her efforts have netted her four Olympic medals: a gold in 1998, silvers in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze in 2006. Angela Ruggiero (born in 1980) is a native of California, but grew up in Harper Woods. In addition to her menagerie of Olympic medals, she also holds the distinction of being the first woman to play professional men's hockey (other than goalie), playing on Tulsa Oilers along with her brother Bill. In February 2012, she was named president-elect of the The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF). (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

  • Steven Fraser

    He won a gold in Greco-Roman for the 198 lb. weight class wrestling in 1984, the first American win for that sport. Steve Fraser (born 1958) later went on to coach the U.S. team in 1997, a position he has retained for London 2012 Summer Olympics. Fraser is a native of Hazel Park. (AP Photo)

  • Andre Dirrell

    Nicknamed "The Matrix," Andre Dirrell (born), a naturally left-handed, boxer from Flint, won the middleweight bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. He has since gone on to fight as a professional boxer. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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