Two-time Olympian (1896, 1900); four-time Olympic medalist (1 gold, 2 silvers, 1 bronze) Athens 1896, gold (triple jump), silver (high jump), bronze (long jump) Paris 1900, silver (triple jump)
James Connolly is an American track and field athlete who was known for being the first gold medalist of the modern Olympic Games. Born in Boston to a family of poor Irish immigrants, Connolly played a number of sports and earned a scholarship to study classics at Harvard University despite dropping out of formal education before high school. He applied for leave from Harvard in order to represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games Athens 1896. Harvard refused, and Connolly abandoned his program to attend the Athens Games. Connolly earned the gold medal in triple jump, the silver medal in high jump and the bronze medal in long jump at the Athens 1896 Games, and went on to capture the silver medal in the triple jump four years later at the Paris 1900 Games. He set foot on Harvard’s campus 50 years later when he was invited to speak about literature before the Harvard Union. Connolly served in the U.S. Navy and made an attempt to run for Congress. He also worked as a journalist and writer for many years, and wrote a number of novels over the rest of his life.