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USC Continues Olympic History in Sochi Winter Olympics

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The Trojans are known for their Olympic prowess, but will have only one athlete competing in Sochi.

USC's lone Olympian, Jung-Hwa Seo, has already been practicing in Sochi.
USC's lone Olympian, Jung-Hwa Seo, has already been practicing in Sochi.
Mike Ehrmann

The Winter Olympics in Sochi are here!

Historically USC-educated athletes have participated heavily in the Olympic Games, but the Summer Olympics are the usual strength of USC athletes. According to USC's sports information, only one athlete that was educated at USC is competing at this year’s Winter Games -- class of 2010 graduate Jung-Hwa Seo of South Korea is competing in freestyle moguls skiing.

USC athletes partaking in the games dates all the way back to 1904, when athlete Emil Breitkrutz, class of 1906, traveled to St. Louis to compete in the Summer Olympics that year, starting a time-honored tradition and legacy that remains to this day. Breitkrutz brought home the bronze that year in the 800-meter run.

The University of Southern California has produced more Olympians than any other university in the United States. This includes the most overall medalists and gold medalists as well. There have been 420 Trojans that have attended the university before, during, or after their Olympic appearances. They have combined to fill 631 spots on Olympic team roster .

But they have not just represented the United States.  USC's Olympic athletes hav represented 60 countries while participating in 28 sports of a wide variety, everything from swimming and track, to bobsled and canoeing, the latter clearly not sports typical at USC.

Not surprisingly, USC athletes seem to be more prevalent at the Summer Games, as opposed to the Winter Games with 622 summer participants compared to nine in the winter, heading into the Sochi Olympics. The location of the University of Southern California and its balmy winters clearly does not cultivate athletes geared towards winter sports and is a big factor in the large number discrepancy. But USC has sent nine athletes to now eight Winter Olympics, an impressive statistic when considering the difficulty of training events such as the cross-country ski and shoot competitions in Los Angeles.

In the 108 years of USC participation in the Olympic games, Trojan athletes have taken home 135 gold medals, 87 silver and 65 bronze -- an incredible figure.

Even more extraordinary, if USC were a country, its 135 gold medals would rank 12th in the entirety of Olympic history. USC's 287 Summer Olympics medals would place it 16th among participating countries, and finally in six different Olympic Games, its medal count would have positioned USC among the top 10 competing nations in 15 Olympic Games. Trojan athletes have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympics since 1912, when freshman Fred Kelly won gold in the 110-meter high hurdles in Stockholm.

During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, USC set a new school record with 25 total medals and 12 gold medals. The 25 medals were the most earned by an American university in a single Olympics and the 12 golds tied with Stanford for the most that year.

If USC athletes had competed as a country, they would have placed 11th in overall medals won and sixth in gold medal standings. USC will likely continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the Olympic Games, even in Sochi despite its smaller presence.