Three team handball Olympians [see feature photo] (l-r) Mike Thornberry ('96), Peter Lash ('84 & '88), and Craig Gilbert ('84) were recognized at the West Point Graduate Olympian Recognition Weekend on Oct 6, 2012. The event, recognizing 100 years since the first West Point graduate competed in the Olympics, included a parade in their honor, a pre-game autograph signing session and a halftime recognition at the football game. West Point first had graduates compete in the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm.
All three played for the West Point Men's Team Handball Club that USATH’s Jim Thome had the honor to coach while stationed at West Point during two separate assignments in 1975-78 and 1988-91. The event was an incredibly memorable day for Jim Thome to share their recognition with them. The Olympians were introduced to the sellout crowd at the halftime of the Army-Boston College football game at midfield. The ceremony included 8 of the 14 surviving Olympian's who graduated from West Point. West Point has had 104 Olympians. The oldest living West Point Olympian in attendance was a 1941 graduate.
Of special note is that since team handball was added in 1972, team handball [Gilbert, Lash & Thornberry] has had the most West Point participants of all sports!
Jim Thome was the original founder of the West Point Team Handball program during the 1975-76 academic year. Hundreds of our nation’s finest young men and women have had the opportunity to enjoy this great sport thanks to Jim. We at USATH are very proud of West Point’s Olympians as well as grateful to Jim Thome for his outstanding contributions to the sport.