Michigan in the Olympics


1968 - Mexico City

Sixteen U of M athletes competed in the Mexico City games. Carl Robie brought Michigan another individual gold medal in swimming, taking first in the 200 meter butterfly. Robie also swam the butterfly leg for the 4x100m medley team in the qualifying round. The qualifying time of 4:03.24 set new Olympic record. The U.S. went on to win the gold medal in another Olympic record time of 3:53.9. John Clawson, who played alongside Cazzie Russell and Bill Buntin on two NCAA tournament teams, earned gold as a member of the U.S. basketball team. In his third Olympic competition, Alvaro Gaxiola thrilled his countrymen by winning a silver medal for Mexico in platform diving.

Carl Robie,

action John

Clawson Alvar Gaxiola, diving 1968
Carl Robie, John Clawson, Alvaro Gaxiola

The most remarkable Wolverine performance, however, may have been turned in by diver Maxine "Micki" King, a 1966 graduate. During King's time in Ann Arbor, there were no varsity sports for women, but she trained regularly with U of M men's diving coach Dick Kimball. After graduating, King joined the Air Force but came to Ann Arbor for training whenever possible and won a spot on the U.S. team. In the three meter competition at Mexico City King was in first place after eight dives, but on her ninth, a reverse one and a half layout, she hit the board, breaking her left forearm. Unable to lift her arm over her head, she completed her 10th dive but fell to fourth place.

Juan Bello Bill Mahoney
Juan Bello, Bill Mahoney
Tom Arusoo
Thomas Arusoo
Juan Bello finished 4th in the 200 meter individual medley for Peru. Canadians Thomas Arusoo and Bill Mahoney both competed in 100 and 200 meter butterfly, but neither placed. Marilyn Dawson Corson swam the women's 100 and 200 meter butterfly for Canada and was on the bronze medal winning 4x100 freestyle relay team.

Though she did not attend the university, Corson brought a special U of M connection to the games. As a child she practiced at the Union Pool before the family moved to Canada. Her mother, Rose Dawson, had been coach of the U of M women's swimming club and an organizer of the Ann Arbor Swimming Club. Corson was also the granddaughter of legendary Wolverine swimming coach Matt Mann


Gil Larose
Gil Larose
Gymnasts Gil Larose and Sid Jensen, who led UM to NCAA gymnastics titles in 1963 and 1970 respectively, competed for Canada but did not place. Larose was the first UM gymnast to win the NCAA all-around title.

Sid Jensen,

parallel bars
Sid Jensen

Ron Kutchinski won the the Big Ten 800 meter championship in 1968 and finished first in his preliminary heat at the NCAA meet before bowing out of the competition due to injury. He was, however, granted an automatic qualification for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Kutchinski earned a spot on the U.S. 800 meter team and advanced to the semi-finals in Mexico City. Tom Robinson made his third and final Olympic appearance for the Bahamas. He ran the first leg on the 4x100 meter relay team that made the semi-finals. Shot putter George Puce, a 1962 letterwinner, made the Canadian team but scratched in the qualifying round at Mexico City. Ann Arbor's Francie Kraker became the first U of M woman to make the U.S. track squad and the first native female Michiganian to make the U. S. Olympic team.


Kutchinski  Tom Robinson   Francie Kraker
Ron Kutchinski,   Tom Robinson,   Francie Kraker

Francie Kraker running
Francie Kraker

Kraker, who began training with long-time UM phys-ed instructor and coach Red Simmons while in junior high school, had firmly established herself as one of the top three U.S. half-milers and a solid Olympic prospect by her junior year at the university, having defeated most of the U.S.'s other half-milers and set a world indoor record in the 600 yard run. After a year of setbacks, including severe tendonitis, an appendectomy, and a disastrous Olympic Trials where she finished fourth, Kraker made the squad in a high-altitude race when injured 400 meter champion Jarvis Scott opted out of the 800 to concentrate on her specialty. In Mexico City, Kraker finished 5th in her preliminary heat in a time of 2:07.3.

Kraker made the 1972 Olympic team in the inaugural 1500 meter race for women. She went on to a successful career as a coach and athletic administrator, including a stint as U of M women's cross country and track coach, 1981-1983; her team won Michigan's first Big Ten women's track championship in 1983. Kraker was inducted into the U of M Hall of Honor in 1994, the fourth woman to be so honored, and in 1995 was the second person inducted into the U of M Women's Track Hall of Fame, following her mentor, Red Simmons.

Sperry Jone-Raademaker
Sperry Jones Rademaker practicing in a single kayak
Marcia Jones Smoke, a bronze medalist in 1964, made the best U.S. showing in canoeing/kayaking with a fourth place finish in the women's kayak singles. She then teamed with her sister Sperry Jones Rademaker, a U of M graduate student 1964/65-1965/66, for a seventh place finish in the 500 meter doubles kayak. Toby Cooper , a graduate student in zoology, made the U.S. canoe team as a reserve, but did not compete in Mexico City.


The U-M Results - 1968

Carl Robie
   200 meter butterfly1st
   4x100 medley relay1st, Robie swam butterfly leg in qualifying heat.
John Clawson
Alvaro Gaxiola (Mexico)
   platform diving2nd
Ron Kutchinski
   800 meters, trackadvanced to semi-finals
Micki King
   3 meter diving4th
Francie Kraker
   800 meters, trackfifth in preliminary heat
Tom Robinson (Bahamas)
   4x100 m. relay, trackteam disqualified in semifinals
George Puce (Canada)
   shot putdid not place
Gil Larose (Canada)
   gymnasticsdid not place
Sid Jensen (Canada)
   gymnasticsdid not place
Thomas Arusoo (Canada)
   100 m. butterflydid not place
   200 m. butterflydid not place
Bill Mahoney (Canada)
   100 m. butterflydid not place
   200 m. butterflydid not place
Marilyn Corson (Canada)
   100 m. butterflydid not place
   200 m. butterflydid not place
   400 m. free. relay3rd
Juan Bello (Peru)
   200 m. ind. medley4th
   200 freestyledid not place
Toby Cooper
   canoe, reservedid not compete
Marcia Jones Smoke
   kayak singles4th
Sperry Jones Rademaker & Marcia Jones Smoke
   kayak doubles7th

Photo Credits:

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