UNI's First Olympic Gold Medalist donating gold medal to wrestli - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI's First Olympic Gold Medalist donating gold medal to wrestling program

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Just in time for the Winter Olympics, a gold medal will be on display at the University of Northern Iowa.

88-year-old Bill Smith, the school's first and only Olympic gold medalist, donated the medal to the wrestling program.

During the 1952 Olympics, the Council Bluffs native wrestled his way to gold.  As a student, he spent a lot of his time inside the West Gym on UNI's campus and now it will be home to his gold medal. UNI Head Wrestling Coach Doug Schwab says it's the only place Smith wanted it.

Schwab says, "It was made in here and he knows it was made in here, and I think that's why he wanted it back in this place."

The school's gym has always been close to Smith's heart. Back in 2013, UNI named the West Gym wrestling mat in his honor. 

Schwab says, "There's a romance with this building for anyone who has wrestled here, it's history."

Adding to the history, Smith's gold medal will be added to a display across from the weight room. 

"It's a reminder that it can happen here, to dream big and believe you can do it in this building. Being a UNI student and an athlete here, you can reach the highest level," Schwab says. 

We spoke with Smith over the phone who had this to say to all athletes.

Smith says, "Don't give up, hang in there and keep trying to get better."

The medal will be unveiled 7 p.m. on Saturday at the big UNI vs. Iowa State wresting duel. Unfortunately, Bill is having health issues but some of his family members will be there for the big reveal. All of us at KWWL are sending well wishes.

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