Tianna (Madison) Bartoletta has earned accolades around the world, winning three Olympic gold medals and two outdoor world championships.
She’ll receive her next honor much closer to home but remains humbled by it.
Madison, an Elyria High School graduate, is one of four individuals to be inducted this evening in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Circle of Champions at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. The group will be honored at halftime of the Division IV boys basketball state championship that is scheduled to start at 5:15.
“I’m excited about it,” said Bartoletta, a sprinter and long jumper. “It’s been very fun to come back to Ohio so often this past year. I’m not only looking forward to seeing some of the basketball games but to rub elbows with people that made an impact on Ohio sport history. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
The Circle of Champions program recognizes individuals who had prominent roles in the history of Ohio athletics. Also being inducted are former NBA guard Jim Cleamons, former Ohio State captain and NBA player Brad Sellers and three-time Mid-American Conference Player of the Year and NBA player Gary Trent.
“It’s really good company to be in,” Bartoletta said. “I think it’s very easy for people when it comes to our home state to not really think about people doing a lot of great things. It’s nice to take a pause to look at people who are doing great things and adding what it means to be an Ohioan.”
The Circle of Champions started in the 2006-07 school year in conjunction with the OHSAA centennial. The honorees have outstanding athletic achievements at the high school level and beyond and have displayed outstanding character.
Bartoletta, a 2003 Elyria graduate, won nine state track titles with the Pioneers, including four each as a junior and senior. She set a record in the long jump as a senior that still stands, helping the Pioneers win the state championship.
Following a decorated career at the University of Tennessee, she competed in the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. She won three gold medals, two as part of the world record-setting 4x100 relay and one in the long jump.
“Actually, surprisingly I didn’t know that many names (of previous inductees), which is kind of my point,” Bartoletta said. “That they take the time to honor individuals that might not be household names and bring their accomplishments and achievements to our attention is a very incredible thing to do. It’s not done often enough I think. That’s another reason why I’m happy to participate.”
Elyria Catholic graduate Brianne McLaughlin, who was a goaltender on the Olympic hockey team, was inducted into the Circle of Champions in 2017. Former Cavs star LeBron James was inducted in 2009.
James isn’t the only huge name.
Four-time Olympic gold medalists Jesse Owens (2010) and Harrison Dillard (2011), two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin (2007) and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz (2015) are also in the Circle.
Bartoletta is preparing for the professional track season, beginning with her season-opening outdoor meet in May.
“The training has been going very well,” she said. “It’s kind of an interesting year. For the first time ever, the IAAF World Championships aren’t until October. It’s typically in August. When you think about the training calendar, training has been pushed back almost two months so you can be ready in October.
“The regular season hasn’t been pushed back at all. I open up my season with a Diamond League in Doha on May 3 in the long jump. I think for the people who would like to follow the season closely they are going to see what looks like a slow start. Fans need to know this and not to fret. It’s OK. We’re just trying to train ourselves so that we can be still competing at a high level in October.”