When Glenn Morris was distinguishing himself as one of the area's best athletes in both football and track at Colorado State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts in 1935, winning an Olympic gold medal was just a glimmer of a dream. Morris became intrigued with the decathlon during the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and went on to compete in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where he was determined to win the gold medal and break his world record. He did both, closing with a stirring personal-best time in the 1500 meters and leading an American sweep of the medals. When the team returned from the Games, Morris received the prestigious Sullivan Award, given annually to the nation's top amateur athlete.
At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta a young woman from Colorado State University stretched her long arms and made her dreams a reality. Amy Van Dyken, an NCAA champion and an All-American at CSU, became the first female athlete in U.S. history to win four gold medals in one Olympic games. By the time the last lap had been completed, Van Dyken's American team emerged as the dominant force in Olympic swimming, collecting 26 medals in all, 13 of which were gold. Van Dyken alone wore four golds - two as part of relay teams and two in individual events - went on to appear on the David Letterman and Rosie O'Donnell shows and had her face smiling down from Wheaties cereal boxes.
Paralympic athlete and Colorado State graduate ('07) Erin Popovich was born with achondroplasia, severely restricting the growth of her limbs. She stands just 4-foot-4 ¾ tall. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, she competed in six events and medaled in each: four gold and two silver. She competed previously in Athens, Greece, in 2004 and in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 and now has 14 gold medals in her career and two world records. Popovich is a native of Silverbow, Mont., but lives and trains in Fort Collins with former CSU swim coach John Mattos and Fort Collins Area Swim Team coach Bill Spahn.