American swimmer Mark Spitz became the first athlete to win seven Olympic gold medals over the course of a single Olympic games on September 4, 1972 after the 4×100 meters medley relay.
The Olympic Games held in Munich were the second games Spitz competed in. He had previously competed as an 18-year-old in the ’68 games in Mexico City. He took home one bronze, one silver and two gold medals along with a world record in the 4×100 meters freestyle relay. At age 22 Spitz won all seven of the events he competed in at a world record pace.
The world knew Spitz was going to be a sensation going into the Olympic Games. He had previously competed in the 1967 Pan American Games where he won five gold medals, unfortunately he was not able to keep the the waves rolling for his first shot in the Olympics. He came into the ’72 games with higher expectations then before. Unfortunately he had to leave shortly after competing because of a group of terrorists who took the lives of all of the Israeli athletes. Spitz was escorted out of the Olympic Village because he is Jewish and his life was in danger.
Born in California and raised in Hawaii, Spitz was often able to find time to swim in the ocean. By the age of six he was competing against other swimmers in his age group. His swim life started there and continued through school. He was voted athlete of the century by Sports Illustrated Magazine in 2000.
“If he wins seven golds and ties what I did, then it would be like I was the first man on the moon and he became the second. If he wins more than seven, then he becomes the first man on Mars. We’d both be unique.” -Spitz on Michael Phelps