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The Heroic History of Auburn’s First Two Olympians

Snitz Snider’s parents won a gold medal in Baby Naming.

Aubie bragged about the university’s medals after the 2008 Olympics. Why not? People who bleed orange and blue won more bling than many of the countries nations that showed up in Beijing, tying Spain and Canada at 14th among nations with 18 trips to the podium.

And though Aubie’s petition to have the fight song played during the awards ceremonies was turned down by the IOC, he’ll likely be counting medals again this year. Auburn sent 27 athletes and four coaches to the United Kingdom. That’s a larger contingent than 126 countries.

Historically the Tigers have brought home plenty of hardware, 46 medals going into the London Games. A family among nations, Auburn is the 44th most prolific winner of all time on the international stage.

But who started it?

Famed Tiger Euil “Snitz” Snider was the first Auburn Olympian. Legendary track coach Wilbur Hutsell took him to Amsterdam in 1928. Snider’s Alabama Sports Hall of Fame bio says he qualified by setting a national record of 48 seconds flat in the 400 meter race. He was beaten out in the second round of heat races, but if Snider had pulled that run of his life again … he would have medaled …

Snider would go on to become a high school coaching icon in Bessemer, Ala. for three decades, where a football stadium is today named in his honor. He died in 1975 and was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1977 and the AHSAA Hall of Fame in 1991.

Four years later Auburn returned to the Olympics on the legs of Pearcy Beard, a Kentucky native who became a world-class hurdler during his tenure at Auburn.

Beard carried high hopes into the 1932 games in Los Angeles, where he ran preliminary times of 14.7 and 14.6 in the 110 meter hurdles. He raced to the silver, finishing one-tenth of a second behind George Saling, another American, who happened to set the world record that day.

We like to think Saling, an Iowa boy, got by him only because Beard was telling him about the loveliest village.

Beard ultimately set records in hurdle races for almost a decade before becoming a coach for 27 years at the University of Florida, where the track and field facility still bears his name.

Auburn’s first medalist died in 1990, at the age of 82, living long enough to be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame and the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame. He was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995 and added to the Auburn Tiger Trail in 1996.

And now the medal count begins once again again. Print out this list, put War Eagle on your MP3 player, and get ready for Olympic vict’ry.

AUBURN’S 2012 OLYMPIANS

George Bovell
Trinidad & Tobago
Swimming
50m Free / 100m Free

Adam Brown
Great Britain
Swimming
50m Free / 400m Free Relay

Marc Burns
Trinidad & Tobago
Track & Field
400m Relay

Mark Carroll
Ireland
Track & Field
Assistant Coach

Marcelo Chierighini
Brazil
Swimming
400m Free Relay

Cesar Cielo
Brazil
Swimming
50m Free/ 100m Free/ 400FreeRelay

Kirsty Coventry
Zimbabwe
Swimming
100m Back / 200m Back / 200m IM

James Disney-May
Great Britain
Swimming
400m Free Relay

Glenn Eller
United States
Shooting
Double Trap

Sheniqua Ferguson
Bahamas
Track & Field
100m / 200m / 400m Relay

Megan Fonteno
American Samoa
Swimming
100m Free

Brett Hawke
Bahamas
Swimming
Head Coach

Stephanie Horner
Canada
Swimming
400m IM

Micah Lawrence
United States
Swimming
200m Breast

Gideon Louw
South Africa
Swimming
50m Free / 100m Free / 400FreeRelay

Josanne Lucas
Trinidad & Tobago
Track & Field
100m Hurdles

David Marsh
United States
Swimming
Assistant Coach

Tyler McGill
United States
Swimming
100m Fly / 400m Free Relay

Avard Moncur
Bahamas
Track & Field
400m Relay

V’alonee Robinson
Bahamas
Track & Field
400m Relay

Henry Rolle
Bahamas
Track & Field
Assistant Coach

Stephen Saenz
Mexico
Track & Field
Shot Put

Leevan Sands
Bahamas
Track & Field
Triple Jump

Shamar Sands
Bahamas
Track & Field
110m Hurdles

Kai Selvon
Trinidad & Tobago
Track & Field
100m / 200m / 400m Relay

Eric Shanteau
United States
Swimming
100m Breast / 400m Medley Relay

Maurice Smith
Jamaica
Track & Field
Decathlon

Kerron Stewart
Jamaica
Track & Field
100m / 400m Relay

Matt Targett
Australia
Swimming
400m Free Relay

Donald Thomas
Bahamas
Track & Field
High Jump

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace
Bahamas
Swimming
50m Free / 100m Free

2012 Paralympic Games
Dave Denniston
United States
Swimming
Assistant coach

Photos via The Warsaw Union and The Tuscaloosa News.

Related: Auburn Olympic swimmers lookin’ good next to giant Olympic logo.

Keep Reading:

* Auburn-educated astronaut wanted ‘War Eagle’ to be first words on the moon
Smithsonian Magazine photographs kid in Auburn hat at Texas prom
The WiFi Network Names of Auburn
Auburn’s Legend of Zelda
* That time they burned the Glom
* Auburn’s 1960 cheesecake schedule
* I think of Kurt Crain

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