If you close your eyes and visualize “notable Olympic athletes,” who comes to mind? Michael Phelps? Usain Bolt? Kobe Bryant? Maybe you went old school and conjured up Muhammad Ali, Bruce Jenner or Gabrielle Reese. At an average height of 6 feet 4 inches tall, these giants of the Olympic universe share little more than the Olympic moniker with the podium-hopefuls on our list. It just goes to show that you don’t have to wear a size 13 shoe to leave an impression of Olympic proportions on the world.
5.) Lester Lane
When we say, “short basketball players,” do we say, “oxymoron”? Professional basketball is known to be a game for tall people. The average height of NBA players is roughly 6’7″. The NBA has claimed that male professional basketball players tend to be 9 inches taller than the average male. Late Olympian and 5-foot-10-inch tall Lester Lane would probably disagree, that is, if his own shot clock hadn’t already expired. The 1960 Rome Summer Olympics were the first to be fully covered on television, so viewers watched Lane and the American men’s basketball team win gold that year despite having one of the shortest Olympians as a key player.
After the Olympics, Les Lane coached Mexico’s national team which finished fifth at the 1968 Olympics. Afterward, Lane went on to coach a Spanish club, Aguilas Bilbao from 1968 to 1970 but quit coaching after he suffered a heart attack. In Spring 1973, Lane was named head basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma. However, he never held a practice as he passed away after a heart attack.