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Celebrating the Olympic Spirit and Legendary Olympics Connections

As the eyes of the sports world have turned toward the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, it’s time to celebrate the Olympic spirit! A visit to the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® will help you discover why the games are so special. In addition to trying your hand at Olympic sports like basketball, soccer, tennis, and golf, you can also learn about our featured artist in the National Art Museum of Sport (NAMOS) and Olympians whose statues are featured along the Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions

Here are some of the legendary Olympic connections you’ll find in the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® as you celebrate the Olympic spirit:

Inside NAMOS

LeRoy Neiman
American artist and illustrator LeRoy Neiman (1921-2012) was called the “Olympic artist” because he was the official artist of the games five different times:

  • The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany
  • The 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada
  • The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York
  • The 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
  • The 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California


More than 30 of Neiman’s vibrant, colorful prints and paintings are currently featured in The Art of LeRoy Neiman: Sports in Color and Motion within NAMOS. The exhibit features Neiman’s depictions of sports and athletes—many of them Olympians—including Marvin Harrison, Reggie Miller, Chris Evert, Willie Mays, Mary Lou Retton, and more!

Outside along the Old National Bank Avenue of Champions

Wilma Rudolph
Known as ‘the fastest woman in the world,” U.S. track legend Wilma Rudolph  was an unlikely Olympian. She suffered several childhood illnesses, including polio, which left her leg paralyzed at the age of 6.

But Rudolph was a determined girl and her parents helped her to keep moving. Before long her legs weren’t just strong, she was running track! By age 16, she was a member if the bronze medal-winning 1956 U.S. Olympic 400-meter relay team,and in 1960 she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in single Olympiad, winning the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the 400-meter relay in Rome!

Larry Bird
Larry Bird won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, and later went on to become the coach of Indiana’s Pacers and then president of the team. But Bird also played for his country; he was co-captain of the gold medal-winning “Dream Team,” which represented the U.S.A. in basketball at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The Dream Team included players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, David Robinson, and Charles Barkley, and it is considered the most dominant team ever assembled.

Oscar Robertson
Before there was Larry Bird and the Dream Team, there was the 1960 U.S. men’s basketball team that played in Rome, Italy. Led by Indianapolis Crispus Attucks alum Oscar Robertson’s, who averaged 17.3 points per game during the Olympics, Team U.S.A. dominated the competition. 

We don’t use that word lightly.

They dominated.

The 1960 U.S. men’s basketball team scored an average of 101.9 points per game and held their opponent to 59.5 points per game throughout the tournament. They won by an average of more than 42 points per game!

Many consider this team to be the greatest amateur basketball team. Ever. This team was so special that it is one of only 10 teams to have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a unit.

Reggie Miller
If you look up the word "clutch" in the dictionary, you're likely to find a photo of Reggie Miller in the definition.

Reggie played his entire professional career with the Indiana Pacers, from 1987-2005, including leading the team to the NBA finals in 2000. He was also a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team at the 1996 games in Atlanta.

Tamika Catchings

Former Indian Fever player Tamika Catchings has a long list of accomplishments, including being a member of high school basketball championship teams in two states (Illinois and Texas) and a member of the 1998 NCAA champion University of Tennessee team. She played for the Indiana Fever for 15 years, leading the team to the WNBA championship in 2012. But she is also a four-time Olympian, having been a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. teams in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016!

Wayne Gretzky
We know.

It’s summer.

Hockey is a winter game. But our list of Olympic champions on the Old National Bank Sports Legends Avenue of Champions would not be complete without the “Great One.”

Gretzky served as Executive Director of the Canada national men’s ice hockey team in 2002. What did Team Canada do in the Winter Games in Salt Lake City , Utah, that year? 

They won the gold.

What else would you expect from a Sports Legend?

Celebrate Sports Legends at The Children’s Museum

From interactive programs to life-sized statues to the energetic artwork of LeRoy Neiman, you'll find a spark of the Olympic spirit every day in the Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience®. Get your game face on and celebrate our Olympic connections the next time you visit The Children's Museum!