What's up UA - Plenty of athletes with local ties in Olympics - The Explorer: University Of Arizona

What's up UA - Plenty of athletes with local ties in Olympics

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Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 12:03 pm

As the 2012 Summer Olympic Games get underway, once again athletes from the University of Arizona will be there en force.

A total of 24 athletes and coaches with ties to the school will represent 11 nations and participate in the games of the XXXth Olympiad. Twenty-two are athletes, including four current Wildcat student-athletes, one is a coach and one is an athlete trained by UA coaches.

Fifteen of the 22 UA athletes have previous Olympic experience and four of those have earned medals. Two Wildcats – Abdi Abdirahman and Roland Schoeman – will be participating in their fourth Olympiad, equaling the UA mark for longevity shared by three others: George L. Young; Amanda Beard; and Ryk Neethling.

For complete up-to-date news and the current medal count, visit www.uanews.org/olympics.

A Rich History at the Games

Arizona long has had a connection to the Olympics, as a total of 112 athletes have made 177 appearances in the Games. In fact, at least one athlete with Arizona ties has competed in every summer Olympiad since the Rome Games in 1960 (athletes with UA ties also competed in 1952).

Wildcat athletes have won 56 medals (23 gold, 21 silver and 14 bronze) in Olympic competition and have claimed at least one medal in every Olympiad since 1968.

For that last three Olympiads, we have had 20 or more athletes and coaches participating. 2008 was our biggest year, when we sent 25 athletes.

How do our 2012 numbers compare with other schools? We’re tied with Washington for fifth place among the PAC 12 institutions when it comes to the number of people we’re sending to London.

Get to Know the 2012 UA Olympians

Abdi Abdirahman, Men’s Track and Field (USA) This former Wildcat earned his fourth trip to the Olympic Games this year (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012). He competed in the 10,000-meter race at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, earning a 10th-place finish in 2000. In 2012, Abdirahman will compete in the marathon. At the Olympic Trials Marathon he took third place with a time of 2:09:47.

Alyssa Anderson, Marketing (2013), Women’s Swimming (USA) Sixteen-time All-American makes her first Olympic appearance. Anderson finished fourth in the 400m free at the 2011 World University Games, placed third in the 200m free, seventh in the 400m free and eighth in the 200m fly at the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships. In addition, she earned a silver medal swimming prelims in the 800m free relay at the 2009 FINA World Championships, placed fourth in the 200m free at the 2009 National Championships and captured silver medals in the 800m and 1500m free at the 2007 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.

Brigetta Barrett, Theater Arts (2013), Women’s Track and Field (USA) Brigetta Barrett is the sixth Wildcat to compete in the women’s high jump at the Olympic Games. She is making her first Olympic appearance. Barrett took second place in the high jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a personal-best clearance of 6-7 (2.01m). That mark was good for second place and tied the meet record. Currently, that mark is tied for the No. 2 spot in the world. Barrett's clearance was a school record and she is the lone collegian to ever clear more than 6-6, in-season or postseason. She is a six-time All-American (three indoor, three outdoor). Check out this video about Barrett's lead-up to the Olympic trials.

Jean Basson, Finance (2011), Men’s Swimming (South Africa) Basson is making his second Olympic appearance after finishing fourth in the 200m free and the 4x200m free relay in the 2008 Games. At Arizona, Basson was a three-time NCAA Champion and 14-time All-American. He was UA’s outstanding male athlete in 2010.

Clark Burckle, Agriculture Economics and Management (2011), Men’s Swimming (USA) Burckle qualified for his first Olympic appearance by finishing second in the 200m breast. Burckle finished eighth in the 200m breast at the 2011 World University Games and third in the 200m breast and 200m IM at the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, he placed fifth in the 200m breast and seventh in the 400m IM. He tied for fourth in the 400y IM and placed fourth in the 200y breast at the 2008 NCAA Championships, took fifth in the 400m IM at the 2007 ConocoPhillips National Championships, placed tenth in the 200 breast at the 2006 Conoco Phillips National Championships.

Simon Burnett, Business Economics (2007), Men’s Swimming (Great Britain) Burnett is making his third Olympic appearance after competing in the 2004 and 2008 Games. In 2004, Burnett finished seventh in the 200 free. At Arizona, he won six national titles and set an NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 200 free. He was a multi-NCAA Champion swimmer for Arizona, winning the 200 free in 2003 and 2005. While at the UA, he set the NCAA 200 free record (1:31.20) in 2006, making him the fastest man ever in a short-course yard pool. He was UA’s outstanding male athlete in 2006.

Frank Busch, Head Coach – UA Men’s and Women’s Swim Teams (1989-2011), Men’s Swimming National Team Director (USA) Busch coached at Arizona for 22 seasons and guided the Wildcats to a men’s and women’s teams to NCAA Division I National Championships in 2008. In addition, Busch’s swimmers won 49 individual national championships, 31 relay championships and have finished among the nation’s top-five teams on 27 occasions (16 for women, 11 for men). Busch was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008. He has been the U.S. national team director since May 2011.

Jill Camarena-Williams, Volunteer Assistant Coach – UA Track and Field, Women’s Track and Field (USA) Camarena-Williams punched her ticket to London, earning a first-place finish in the women's shot put with a mark of 62-10.5 (19.16m). This is her second-straight trip to the Olympic Games. A graduate of Stanford University, she spent her first as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Arizona. She is currently the American record-holder for the indoor women’s shot put and tied for the outdoor American record.

Sara El Berki, Women's Swimming (Morocco) Making her second Olympic appearance, El Berki also competed in the breaststroke in the 2008 Beijing Games. She was a member of the Arizona women's swim team in 2009-10, posting a best time of 1:00.91 in the 100-yard breaststroke and 2:11.50 in the 200-yard breaststroke. El Berki has made two World Championship appearances (2007 and 2008), and also participated in the 2006 African Championships and the 2007 Arab Games.

Matt Grevers, Men’s Swimming (USA) A swimming standout who has trained at the UA’s Hillenbrand Aquatic Center since 2008, Grevers is making his second Olympic appearance. He won three medals at the 2008 Beijing Games: two golds as part of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and the 4x100-meter medley relay, and a sliver in the 100-meter backstroke. He is a veteran of international swimming, having claimed 13 medals (5 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze) in major international competition. Grevers clocked the second fastest time in history (52.08) in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Andre Iguodala, Men’s Basketball (USA) Iguodala is an eight-year NBA veteran and 2012 NBA All-Star making his first Olympic appearance. This will be his second consecutive appearance on a USA Basketball senior national team roster, as he was also a part of the Gold-medal-winning 2010 FIBA World Championship squad. An Arizona letter-winner for two seasons (2002-04), he averaged 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 62 collegiate appearances. As a sophomore in 2003-04, he averaged 12.9 points per game and led the team in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and assists (4.9 apg). Iguodala was a first-team all-Pac-10 selection in 2004 and the ninth pick of the first round of the NBA Draft that season by Philadelphia.

Robertas Javtokas, Men’s Basketball (Lithuania) About to make his third Olympic appearance, Javtokas participated in the 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He helped Lithuania to fourth-place finishes in both Athens and Beijing. He averaged 2.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in the 2012 Olympic qualifier. A 12-year European professional, Javtokas has played for seven different clubs and on teams that have won 10 national or league titles. He was a member of the 2010 Lithuanian FIBA World Championship team that finished third.

Julie Labonté, Family Studies and Human Development (2013), Women’s Track and Field (Canada) A junior, Labonté took first place in the shot put at the Canadian Trials and earned her trip to London with a mark of 57-5.5 (17.51m). Labonté will join volunteer assistant coach Jill Camarena-Williams in London for the women's shot put competition. Labonté is the first Wildcat to ever represent Canada in the Olympic Games. Furthermore, Labonté is the second Wildcat to ever compete in the women’s shot put in the Olympics.

Bernard Lagat, Men’s Track and Field (USA) Lagat will represent Team USA in London in the 5,000-meter race; this will be his fourth trip to the Olympic Games. He earned a bronze medal in 2000 in the 1,500-meter race and silver in 2004, also in the 1,500 meters. Lagat, a former Washington State Cougar, spent his first year as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Arizona. He currently holds the American indoor and outdoor records in the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters.

Georganne Moline, Psychology (2013), Women’s Track and Field (USA) Moline earned a spot on Team USA for the London Olympic Games after taking second place in the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials. She clocked a personal-best time of 54.33 and broke her own school record for the fourth time this season. Her time of 54.33 is the fourth-best time in Pac-10/12 history and ranks as the fifth-best time in the world this year and No. 2 in the U.S. Moline is the second Wildcat ever to compete in the 400-meter hurdles at the Games. This will be her first trip to the Olympics. She was the 2012 Pac-12 Champion in the 400-meter hurdles and earned All-America accolades as a member of the women’s 4x400-meter relay team.

Ana-Maria Montoya, Women’s Soccer (Colombia) Despite making her first Olympic appearance in 2012, Montoya has international experience with the Colombian national team, competing in the 2008 U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. She played in 38 of 39 matches during her freshman and sophomore seasons at the UA. Montoya has two career goals and an assist to her credit as a midfielder. She is ranked second on the Wildcats with 26 shots in 2011.

Nicolas Nilo-Oliveira, Economics (2011), Men’s Swimming (Brazil) Nilo-Oliveira is making his second Olympic appearance after competing in the 2008 Games. At Arizona, Oliveira was a three-time national champion and seven-time All-American.

Luis Rivera-Morales, Industrial Engineering (2010), Men’s Track and Field (Mexico) Rivera-Morales, a former Wildcat, earned his first trip to the Olympic Games in 2012. He will compete in the long jump representing Mexico. He met the Olympic Games “A” Standard at the Mt. SAC Relays, jumping 26-11.75 (8.22m). Currently, that mark is tied for No. 12 in the world. He holds the Arizona school record for the indoor long jump. Additionally, he was a 2009 NCAA Outdoor All-American and a 2010 NCAA Indoor All-American in the event.

Roland Schoeman, Psychology (2003), Men’s Swimming (South Africa) Schoeman is making his fourth Olympic appearance after competing in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2004, he earned a gold medal in the 400m free relay, setting a world record in the process, a silver medal in the 100m free and a bronze medal in the 50m free. In 2004, he finished 15th in the 100m free. At Arizona, Schoeman won a national title in the 50 free.

Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, Men’s Swimming (Israel) Shapira-Bar-Or is making his second appearance at the Olympics after reaching the semifinals in the 200m free in 2008. With this finish, Shapira-Bar-Or became the first-ever Israeli swimmer to qualify as an Olympic semifinalist. At Arizona, he was a 10-time All-American in three seasons.

Albert Subirats, Communication (2009), Men’s Swimming (Venezuela) Subirats is making his second Olympic appearance after competing in the 2008 Games. At Arizona, he was an eight-time national champion and 20-time All-American. He currently holds school records in the 100 fly, 100 free and 100 back. Subirats was just the second man in NCAA history to win two national championships in the same day when he won the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly in 2007. He was the UA’s outstanding male athlete in 2008.

Nick Thoman, Men’s Swimming (USA) Thoman qualified for the 2012 Olympic team by finishing second in the 100m back. He won a gold medal as part of the 400m medley relay at the 2011 FINA World Championships; he also finished fourth in the 100m back and sixth in the 50m back. He took second in the 100m back and third in the 200m back at the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships, helped take home the gold in the 400m medley relay (WR) at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships, earned the bronze medal in the 50m back at the 2010 MOO Pan Pacific Championships, set the 100 SCM backstroke world record at the 2009 Duel in the Pool, won gold in the 100m back at the 2008 U.S. Open, won silver as part of the men's 400m medley relay at the 2007 World University Games, and placed 18th in the 100m back at the 2004 Olympic Trials.

Darian Townsend, Class of 2010 – Sociology, Men’s Swimming (South Africa) Townsend is making his third Olympic appearance after qualifying in 2004 and 2008. In 2004, he earned a gold medal in the iconic 400m free relay that set a world record and finished fourth in the 200 free relay. At Arizona, he was a six-time national champion and 12-time All-American.

Todd Wells, Class of 2000, Management Information Systems, Mountain Bike-Cross Country (USA) Now making his third Olympic appearance, Wells participated in the 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He finished 43rd in mountain bike cross country in Beijing in 2008 and 19th in Athens in 2004. A 13-time world championship team member, Wells finished seventh at the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland. The 2010 and 2011 USA Cycling Mountain Bike-Cross Country national champion, he has four wins in other international competitions.

Check out the current UA medal count and get the latest on Wildcat Olympian performances at UANews.org/Olympics.

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