Leah Poulos-Mueller

Leah Jean Poulos-Mueller (née Poulos, born October 5, 1951) is an American retired Olympic Games medalist in speed skating[1] with a total of 3 Olympic silver medals won between 1972 and 1980. She garnered more than 65 Olympic, world, and international speed skating medals and titles during an illustrious career that spanned 12 competitive years and three Olympic teams.

Leah Poulos-Mueller
Leah Poulos in 1977
Personal information
BornOctober 5, 1951 (1951-10-05) (age 68)
Berwyn, Illinois, U.S.
Height1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight59 kg (130 lb)
Spouse(s)Peter Mueller (divorced)
Country United States
SportSpeed skating

Her career as an athlete was followed with a career in law as a civil litigator.

Early life and education

In the early years, Poulos was a member of the Northbrook Speedskating Club in Northbrook, Illinois where many Olympians were trained. The club was founded in 1952 and resulted in Northbrook being dubbed as the Speedskating Capital of the World. More than twenty skaters from the club went on to the Olympic Games, and at least five skaters were recipients of various medals.[2]

In the early days of her athletic career, her parents financed her training and travel expenses. She began training at the age of 7.[3]

Athletic career

1970 World Sprint Championships

Poulos specialized in sprint events and made her international debut at the World Sprint Championships (then called the ISU Sprint Championships) in 1970, where she won a silver medal in the 500 meter event.

1972 Winter Olympic Games, Japan

Poulos competed and placed 24th in the 1500 m and placed 17th in the 3000 m at the 1972 Winter Olympics.

1974 World Allround Championships

Poulos competed in several World Allround Championships. Her first World Championship title came in 1974 when she became World Sprint Champion.

1976 Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck

Poulos participated in the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck and she entered in three distances. The first race was the 1500 m, in which she finished 6th. The next day, she skated the 500 m and finished 4th – only 0.04 seconds away from a bronze medal. The day after that, she won silver on the 1000 m, behind world record holder Tatyana Averina, and ahead of her compatriot Sheila Young, who took the bronze medal. Later that year, she won silver at the World Sprint Championships, behind Sheila Young.

1976-1979 World Sprint Championships

In 1976 and 1977, Poulos-Mueller won silver again at the World Sprint Championships. In 1977, she won just behind Sylvia Burka. Poulos-Mueller retired from competition for one year when she married Peter Mueller. She returned to competition in 1979 and immediately became World Sprint Champion again. At this point, Poulos-Mueller was considered the best in the world in the women's 500 meter category.[4] The following year, Poulos-Mueller finished second at the World Sprint Championships.

1980 Winter Olympic Games, New York

Poulos participated in the 1980 Winter Olympics, where she competed in the 500 m and the 1000 m, winning silver in both.[5]

1980 World Sprint Championships

In 1980, Poulos-Mueller won silver again at the World Sprint Championships.


An overview of medals won by Poulos at important championships she participated in, listing the years in which she won each:[5]

Championships Gold medalSilver medalBronze medal
Winter Olympics1976 (1000 m)
1980 (500 m)
1980 (1000 m)
World Allround
World Sprint1974

Career best times

Personal records
Women's speed skating
Event Result Date Location Notes
500 m41.13January 13, 1980Eisstadion Davos, Davos
1000 m1:23.07January 21, 1980Eisstadion Davos, Davos
1500 m2:13.98January 31, 1976Eisstadion Davos, Davos
3000 m5:11.43January 26, 1976Pista Olimpica, Madonna di Campiglio

Hall of Fame

Poulos-Mueller was inducted into the following Halls of Fame:

DateHall of Fame
1984American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association Athletic Hall of Fame (First Woman Inductee)
1988National Speedskating Hall of Fame
1995Northbrook Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.[6]
2009Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame

Poulos-Mueller is a JD graduate of Marquette University Law School. Presently, Poulos-Mueller is a practicing attorney in Waukesha, Wisconsin[7] and is the Senior Partner of Poulos-Mueller Attorneys out of Milwaukee where her practice is focused on civil litigation and protecting constitutional rights. Within her practice, she has collaborated with once actress Susan Swift, who is now a practicing attorney, as well as Dr. Edward Graff, a civil rights advocate.

White House Guest

Poulos-Mueller was a frequent guest of the United States President at the White House. Following are dates and events that Poulos-Mueller was an official guest at the White House:

May 7, 1976 Gerald FordMeeting With the 1976 U.S. Winter Olympic Medal Winners[8]

Constitutional rights

Poulos-Mueller concentrates a significant portion of her law practice to defend constitutional rights.

Personal life

After partially retiring from skating, in September 1977, Poulos married Peter Mueller, who had also won a gold medal on the 1000 m at the 1976 Winter Olympics. She then retired in earnest and then came out of retirement three years later to participate in the 1980 Winter Olympics. The couple was known to coach each other through training.[9] Subsequent to winner her string of medals, Poulos-Mueller retired from her Olympic career in order to support her husband's career and training[10] and to prioritize her family values.[3] Throughout her career as an Olympian, she also maintained a part-time career as a sales representative for Coca-Cola.[3]


  1. "Leah Poulos-Mueller". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  2. Jared Hopkins (January 23, 2014). "Speedskating club has been pipeline to Olympics". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  3. Charlie Vincent (February 12, 1980). "Muellers Want The Glory". Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, PA. p. 15.
  4. Russell Carter (June 13, 1979). "U.S. Speed Skaters Primed for Gold". Washington Post. Washington, DC. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  5. Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Leah Poulos-Mueller". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC.
  6. "Northbrook Sports Hall of Fame". NbParks.com. Northbrook Park District. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  7. Kristine Cleary (Summer 2010). "The Skill and Determination to Climb" (PDF). Marquette Lawyer. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  8. Gerald Ford (May 7, 1976). "Daily Diary of President Gerald Ford" (PDF). White House Diary. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  9. Tom Boswell (February 16, 1980). "Low-Key Muellers Happy With 3rd Olympic Medal". Washington Post. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  10. John Powers (February 18, 1980). "Poulos Mueller has that Touch of Silver". Boston Globe. Boston, MA. p. 52.
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