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Fort Wayne sports history: Wichman wins Fort Wayne's first Olympic gold

In 1968, Sharon Wichman wins the gold medal in the 200 breast stroke.

Swimmer sets Olympic record at Mexico City Games

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 8:39 am

Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of excepts from the book ``Fort Wayne Sports History.

October 24

In 1968, Sharon Wichman wins the gold medal in the 200 breast stroke.

When Sharon Wichman started competing in the mid-1960s, there was a boys swimming team at Snider High School, but not one for girls. A few years later, Wichman said she was the only female swimmer she knew of at the time.

Quickly Wichman became a role model for other female athletes, as she won a gold medal in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics in the 200-meter breast stroke. Her time of 2:44.4 set an Olympic record, and she also won a bronze medal in the 100-meter breast stroke. Besides being the first American woman to win a gold medal in the event, at only age 16, Wichman became the first Fort Wayne athlete to earn an Olympic gold medal.

``For about a year, my world was wonderful,'' she remembered in 1997. She married David Jones in 1973. ``I gave a lot of talks. People were so excited back then that I would tell them, when they asked me to speak, that I could do a Q & A. They'd ask questions for two hours. That keeps you going and excited.''

After competing in the U.S. Nationals in 1971, Wichman decided not to defend her gold medal in 1972, saying she wanted to experience the normal life of a teenager.

``I didn't realize how goal-orientated I was until I tried to swim afterward,'' she said. ``I had already done the only thing I ever wanted to do in swimming. Just to swim for swimming's sake was not what I wanted to achieve the rest of my life.''

Wichman-Jones lives in Churubusco and has two sons. She often speaks to local groups about her athletic career and her 1985 decision to become a born-again Christian.

For more information on the book "Fort Wayne Sports History'' written by News-Sentinel sports reporter Blake Sebring visit www.amauth.com or www.blakesebring.com.