Oct 2000

Athlete Physicians

Audiey Kao, MD, PhD
Virtual Mentor. 2000;2(10):96-97. doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2000.2.10.dykn1-0010.


  • On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old Oxford medical student, ran the first under-4-minute mile in recorded sports history. Dr. Bannister, who later became a neurologist, ran the distance in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. During that era, it was thought not physiologically possible for a man to break the 4-minute-mile barrier, a feat now achieved frequently. Knighted in 1975, Sir Roger Bannister, MD, remains active as the Director of the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London.
  • Dr. Tenley Albright used skating as a way of strengthening her muscles after a bout with polio at age 11. In 1952, at the age of 16, Dr. Albright won the first of 5 consecutive US women's singles titles, followed by a silver medal at the Winter Olympics in Oslo. In 1956, Dr. Albright became the first American woman to win the gold medal in figure skating, performing despite a severe ankle injury. After graduating from Harvard Medical School in 1961, Dr. Albright became a surgeon and has been in private practice for nearly 25 years specializing in sports injuries.
  • With 2 peach baskets and a soccer ball, James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Mass, in December 1891. Orphaned at the age of 8, he dropped out of school at age 15 to work in lumber camps. He ultimately returned to school and earned several degrees including a medical degree from Gross Medical School.
  • Kwaku Ohene-Frempong began his track and field career while a teenager in his native Ghana. In 1966, he came to the United States to attend school at Yale University, where he set a new record for indoor and outdoor high hurdles - a record that stood for 25 years until it was broken at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. After completing college, he went on to medical school at Yale, graduating in 1975. Dr. Ohene-Frempong is currently a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is one of the world's foremost experts on sickle cell anemia.
  • Dot Richardson played collegiate softball at UCLA, leading the team in hitting for 3 consecutive years (1981-1983). She was named NCAA Player of the Decade. A graduate of Louisville Medical School, Dot Richardson is now a practicing orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. Despite a hectic work and family schedule, Dr. Dot led the US softball team to Olympic Gold in Atlanta, and recently helped the US team to win an incredible series of games en route to capturing the gold medal in Sydney.


Virtual Mentor. 2000;2(10):96-97.



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