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Original Issue


'To maintain Olympic ideals'

In the modern Olympics era some 4,000 Americans have competed in the Games, then picked up their laurels and scattered to homes all over the U.S. Samuel Norton Gerson has long made it his spare-time job to locate them and enroll them in an Olympics alumni organization known as the U.S. Olympians. Gerson's purpose is something more than a nostalgic one: he believes Olympics alumni (the world holds 32,000 of them) have an important part to play in supporting the Olympic Games and maintaining "Olympic ideals in sport."

A Philadelphia engineer, Gerson won wrestling letters at Penn, was a silver medalist (featherweight class) in the 1920 Games at Antwerp. A dozen years ago, "driven by curiosity and the desire to ascertain the whereabouts of my teammates," he began poring over incomplete lists and directories. That led ultimately to the organization of the Olympians, of which Gerson is founder-historian. So far, 1,800 U.S. Olympics alumni have been located and enrolled, and the search goes on for the others. Next Olympian objective: to pass the torch of the alumni idea to Olympic athletes in the rest of the world.