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Seven gold medalists who still can’t vote

Nov 6, 2012, 1:31 PM EDT

502295_ORIG Getty Images

Dear America: go vote.

No, seriously, if you’re an American of voting age currently reading this and you haven’t voted, please turn off your computer (or phone, or what have you) and go to your local polling location. Done? Cool.

One of our favorite Olympians in history, Bob Mathias, was only 17 when he won his first of two consecutive decathlon golds at the 1948 London Games. Unfortunately the teen champ then fell about 15 days shy of voting in the election when Truman famously defeated Dewey a couple months later.

We say unfortunately because we assume Mathias would have been one of the first people at the polls. And he likely would have tried to tip the scales in Dewey’s favor since he later became a four-term republican congressman from California, but we’ll never know for sure.

So with another London Olympics is in the books wanted to know which 2012 American gold medalists are still too young to vote. We’d like to imagine at least one of the seven teen gold medalists, who accounted for 11 golds between them, will follow in Mathias’s footsteps and  one day represent her state on Capitol Hill.

Katie Ledecky, 15, Maryland – swimming gold in 800m freestyle
Gabby Douglas, 16, Iowa – gymnastics gold in team and all-around competition
McKayla Maroney, 16, California – gymnastics gold in team competition, silver in vault
Kyla Ross, 16, California – gymnastics gold in team competition
Jordyn Weiber, 17, Michigan – gymnastics gold in team competition
Missy Franklin, 17, Colorado – swimming gold in 100m and 200m back, and two relays
Claressa Shields, 17, New York – boxing gold in the middleweight division

Also notable: Lia Neal of New York won a swimming bronze in London at only 17, and our entire ladies table tennis team, which includes Ariel Hsing, Erica Wu, and Lily Zhang, is made up of 16-year-olds from California.

  1. nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 6, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Cute story, BUT… I believe that in 1948 the US voting age was still 21 across the country. That changed with the 26th Amendment in 1971. So Mr Mathias was still well short of voting age in 1948.

    • nesuperfan - Nov 6, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      nothanksimdriving123 is EXACTLY right regarding the 26th Amendment, however, states had the right to set it lower, and at the time the 26th Amendment was adopted on July 1, 1971, the voting age was 21 in every state except the following: 18 for Georgia (adopted in 1943) and Kentucky (adopted in 1955), 19 for Alaska and 20 for Hawaii.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 6, 2012 at 7:14 PM

        Thanks nesuperfan. So, Mr Mathias being a Californian, that rather cinches it that he was about 3 years and 2 weeks shy of voting for either Mr Truman or Mr Dewey. (The latter chap won, according to the classic Chicago Daily Tribune headline… whoopsie.)

  2. 32maniac - Nov 6, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    You’re serious? THIS is a news story? Come on… JUST BECAUSE they are olympians? Come on…

    Voting RIGHT is a factor of age for American citizens. It is that simple.
    Stop trying to make a non story into a news story,

    Geez… Weak…

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