Olympic and Paralympic sculpture dedication

A sculpture dedication held on Tuesday, May 30 unveiled the new “Olympians and Paralympians Among Us” sculpture. The artwork celebrates not only the UCCS students who have competed as Olympic or Paralympic athletes, but also the indomitable spirit required to achieve both educational and athletic achievement. The sculpture embodies the shared values each UCCS community member seeks to embody: excellence, friendship and respect, determination, equality, inspiration and courage.

“These incredible students are committed to their education and have trained hard to be part of the Olympics and Paralympics,” said Chancellor Reddy. “They have shown their determination in both competitions and in the classroom. We truly admire them for their tenacity.” 

Chancellor Reddy thanked the Olympians and Paralympians in attendance for helping dedicate the installation, including Olympic medalists Apolo Ohno and Amber English, a UCCS graduate, who gave remarks.  

“UCCS left a great impact on me, giving me help to one day be a successful and productive member of society after sports,” said English, gold-medalist in skeet shooting at the 2020 Olympic games.

“Although getting my degree felt unattainable at times after changing my major a number of times, I learned a lot from being a student athlete at this school,” English continued. “Learning how to be a student first ultimately gave me the tools to pursue anything I wanted to in life. It taught me discipline, time management, how to think outside of the box with training and traveling, and most importantly: when someone tells you “no,” keep going to find a different way. At the end, I was able to compete and pursue career interests as well as meet my athletic goals. I’m happy to see this Olympic dream is still alive and well in this community and on this campus. I look forward to watching this school enable the present and future student athletes to make all of their dreams come true.” 

Ohno, eight-time medalist in short track speed skating, reflected on his time training in Colorado Springs: “The nine thousand plus acres here have been our playground as speed skaters, as athletes. This topography is perfect for really any type of Olympic athlete who is pursuing their dreams to be their absolute best. So it connected me not only with nature, but with that raw, true intention of strengthening my mind, my spirit and my body.”

“We embrace change, we find purpose, and we show up fully,” said Ohno. “And Colorado Springs has always been so good to me. It’s an honor to be here with you, thank you to all of the donors, thank you to UCCS, and this is a great city and one that I think still and always will embody Olympic City, USA.”

Apolo Ohno is the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019. 

Designed by artist Bernard Sandoval, the sculpture features five eight-inch-wide metal spirals in red, blue, green, yellow and gray that rise approximately 30 feet into the air out of a two-tier base. Plaques will be placed around the upper tier to honor UCCS students who have competed in the Olympic and Paralympic games. There will also be a donor plaque recognizing those who made a significant contribution to the sculpture. 

Project partners involved in the creation of the sculpture helped in the dedication, including Tom Neppl of Springs Fabrication, who fabricated the sculpture, and Janet Suthers.  

UCCS has a long-standing tradition of educating Olympians and Paralympians. UCCS-affiliated Olympic athletes brought home six of Team USA’s 113 medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. To put the accomplishment in perspective — if the university were its own country its athletes would have placed 42nd in the Games overall, ahead of nations like Greece, Ethiopia, Uganda and Ireland. The plaques on the sculpture will allow visitors to learn the names of all past and future UCCS affiliated athletes. Featured on each plaque will be the name of the athlete, their sport and medals if achieved. 

The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting involving Olympians, Paralympians, Mayor Suthers, Janet Suthers, President Saliman and Chancellor Reddy. 

“This sculpture will be a permanent landmark reminding future generations who strive to achieve their Olympic and Paralympic dreams of what can be accomplished with dedication and hard work,” said Chancellor Reddy. 

More photos of the event can be viewed here: Olympic and Paralympic sculpture dedication Flickr gallery.