The Fourth of July is the most patriotic day of the year, and Team USA athletes know how to celebrate America's birthday in style. Though Olympic Games have been held later in the summer since the 1920s, a handful of U.S. athletes have the distinction of winning Olympic medals on July 4. Add those to birthdays, Wimbledon titles, a significant FIFA World Cup victory and several U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and the Fourth of July has no shortage of Team USA history.
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1904: The All-Around (AKA Decathlon) Makes Its Olympic Debut
The Olympic Games St. Louis 1904 saw the only running of the men's all-around competition; in subsequent Games, and in subsequent iterations, it became known as the decathlon. Composed of 10 events -- then the 100-yard dash, shot put, high jump, 880-yard walk, hammer throw, pole vault, 120-yard hurdles, 56-pound weight throw, long jump and one mile run -- it was won by Tom Kiely of Great Britain with 6,036 points, followed by Americans Adam Gunn (5,907) and Truxtun Hare (5,813).
1912: Team USA Wins 3 Olympic Shooting Medals
Eighteen Olympic shooting events were contested in Stockholm in 1912. Six of those events had finals on July 4, and U.S. men took home medals in three of them. James Graham won gold in trap (his second gold medal of the Games; the other came in team trap); Frederick Hird won gold in the 50-meter rifle prone (he also won bronzes in the team competitions for 25- and 50-meter small-bore rifle); and the team of William Leushner, William Libbey, William McDonnell and Walter Winans won silver in the 100-meter running deer, single shot team competition.
1961: Connie Paraskevin-Young Is Born
Paraskevin-Young, an Olympic bronze medalist, was a dual-sport athlete who competed at four Olympic Games. Though she made her first Olympic speedskating team in 1980, she didn't compete, and made her Olympic debut in Sarajevo in 1984, finishing 13th in the 500-meter. She then turned her focus to cycling, making another three Olympic teams. She campaigned to have the women's sprint event included on the Olympic program and, when it was added for the Seoul Games in 1988, she went on to win bronze.
1962: Pam Shriver Is Born
International Tennis Hall of Famer Shriver was a doubles specialist, winning 111 women's doubles titles, 21 women's singles titles and one mixed doubles title. In Grand Slam tournaments, she won 21 doubles titles and one mixed doubles title. She reached a No. 3 singles ranking in 1984 and No. 1 doubles ranking in 1985, and won women's doubles gold at the Olympic Games Seoul 1988 with Zina Garrison.
1968: Mark Lenzi Is Born
Inspired to begin diving after watching Greg Louganis win gold in Los Angeles in 1984, Lenzi made his first national team five years later. He made his Olympic debut in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992, winning 3-meter springboard gold by 31 points. He returned in Atlanta in 1996 where, despite an injured shoulder, added 3-meter springboard bronze to his collection. He became the first U.S. diver to perform a 109C (four and a half somersaults) in competition, and the first diver to score more than 100 points on a single dive in competition. Lenzi died on April 9, 2012.
1981: John McEnroe Defeats Bjorn Borg To Win His First Wimbledon Championship
McEnroe was a controversial figure at Wimbledon in 1981, getting dinged with a fine, coming close to getting thrown out and famously stating "you cannot be serious!" (later the title of his autobiography) when he disagreed with several umpires' calls. Despite all that, he made it to the final against Sweden's Borg, who had won five consecutive Wimbledon titles. McEnroe kept his temper under control and rolled to a 4-6,7-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory for his first Wimbledon championship.
1987: Martina Navratilova Wins Her Sixth Straight Wimbledon Title
Navratilova is one of the most dominant women's tennis players in history, running rampant over the competition for much of the 1980s. Graf, then just 17 years old, defeated Navratilova in the final of the French Open in 1987, but Navratilova got her revenge at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, defeating Graf in straight sets in both finals. Navratilova reached all four Grand Slam finals in 1987.
1999: U.S. Women's Soccer Team Wins Women's World Cup Semifinal Against Brazil
The 1999 U.S. women's soccer team, now known as the '99ers, skyrocketed to legend status when they won the FIFA Women's World Cup on home soil at the Rose Bowl. But before they could win the final, they had to get there. Playing in front of more than 73,000 fans in Stanford Stadium, the U.S. took on Brazil in the semifinals. Cindy Parlow struck first just five minutes into the game and, though Michelle Akers would score on a penalty kick in the 80th minute, that was all the U.S. would need. From there, the rest was history.
2008: 10 Athletes Qualify For The 2008 U.S. Olympic Track And field Team
The 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field, held in Eugene, Oregon, saw eight days of competition from June into July. The finals for men's hammer throw, women's high jump, women's 5,000-meter and men's 10,000-meter were held on July 4, and numerous future Olympic medalist punched their tickets to Beijing. A.G. Kruger qualified in the hammer throw; Sharon Day, Amy Acuff and Chaunte Lowe (née Howard), the eventual bronze medalist, qualified in the high jump; Kara Goucher, Jennifer Rhines and Shalane Flanagan, the eventual 10,000-meter silver medalist, qualified in the 5,000-meter; and Jorge Torres, Abdi Abdirahman and Galen Rupp, 2012 10,000-meter silver medalist and 2016 marathon bronze medalist, qualified in the 10,000-meter.
2007: The 2014 Olympic And Paralympic Winter Games Are Awarded To Sochi, Russia
At the 119th International Olympic Committee Session in Guatemala City, Guatemala, the IOC selected Sochi, Russia, to be the host city of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Sochi defeated bids from PyeongChang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria and marked the first time the Russian Federation hosted the Olympic Winter Games.
2008: Dara Torres Makes Her Record Fifth Olympic Team
At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming, Torres was chasing history. She had competed on four Olympic teams -- in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2000 -- and won nine Olympic medals. But after her second comeback, at age 41, Torres won the 100-meter freestyle to become the oldest U.S. Olympic swimmer in history and the first-ever U.S. swimmer to appear in five Olympic Games. Also on that day, Rebecca Soni won the 200-meter breaststroke, Aaron Piersol tied the world record in the 200-meter backstroke and Michael Phelps broke his own world record in the 200-meter individual medley.
2009: Serena Williams Defeats Sister Venus For Her Third Wimbledon Title
In 2009, Venus Williams was hoping to win her third consecutive Wimbledon championship. But when she came across her sister in the final, it wasn't meant to be. Serena rolled to a 7-6, 6-2 victory. Serena defeated Venus in both the 2002 and 2003 Wimbledon title matches as well, while Venus emerged victorious in 2008. Serena would go on to win Wimbledon four more times and currently has 39 Grand Slam titles to her name.
2011: IOC Adds Slopestyle Skiing And Snowboarding To The 2014 Olympic Program
The 2014 Olympic program was expanded greatly from previous years with the additions of women's ski jumping, men's and women's ski halfpipe, the biathlon mixed relay and team events in luge and figure skating. It took a little more time for the IOC to deliberate on slopestyle, but on July 4, the verdict was in and slopestyle was on the program. The U.S. would go on to dominate the discipline in Sochi, with Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson taking slopestyle snowboarding gold, Devin Logan taking women's slopestyle skiing silver and Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper sweeping the men's slopestyle skiing podium.
2016: 12 Athletes Qualify For The 2016 U.S. Olympic Track And Field Team
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field were back in Eugene in 2016 and, amidst some drama on the track, 12 athletes secured their spots in Rio on July 4. Cale Simmons, Logan Cunningham and Sam Kendricks, the future Olympic bronze medalist, qualified in men's pole vault; Cyrus Hostetler, Sam Crouser and Sean Furey qualified in men's javelin throw; Clayton Murphy, Boris Berian and Charles Jock qualified in the men's 800-meter; and Kate Grace, Ajee Wilson and Chrishuna Williams qualified in the women's 800-meter.