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A Golden Bears Guide to the Summer Olympics

July 7, 2021

UC Berkeley’s impressive Olympic history began in 1920, when the U.S. rugby team, which included six Cal athletes, won the university’s first gold medal in Antwerp. Since then, more than 350 Cal alums have collected a remarkable 207 Olympic medals. In 2016 alone, Cal returned with 21 medals from Rio. This summer, the longstanding tradition of Golden Bears’ prowess in the international athletic arena continues. 

Table tennis will be represented by 2016 U.S. women’s singles Champion Lily Zhang, who returns to the Olympic stage for the fourth time.

Valerie Arioto will play in the first Olympic softball tournament since 2008. The 32 year old has played in four WBSC World Championships, batting .350 for a gold medal in 2018. 

Camryn Rogers will compete in this year’s track and field events, representing Canada. The Olympic newcomer is a two-time NCAA champion. Camryn Rogers will represent Canada, as well, in the hammer throw. Robyn Johnson will act as assistant coach, specializing in jumps and multi-events. Johnson has a multitude of experience in the international althetic area. Johnson was assistant coach for jumps and multis in 2016. She worked closely with women’s long jumpers Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese, who won gold and silver medals.

Collin Morikawa will represent Team USA in men’s golf. 

Two-time Olympian Alex Morgan will continue to play for the U.S. women’s soccer team. While at UC Berkeley, she led the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament in each of her four years. Morgan, a star forward, has struck an impressive 110 goals in her 178 international appearances. Daisy Cleverley and Betsy Hassett will play for the New Zealand Olympic team, both as midfielders for the Football Ferns.

Rugby will be represented by Danny Barrett for Team USA. 

Cal men’s tennis volunteer assistant coach and three-time Grand Slam title winner, Rajeev Ram, will represent Team USA. Ben McLachlan, men’s tennis alum, will be representing Japan. 

Luca Cupido, men’s water polo alum, will compete for Team USA as an attacker. Johnny Hooper, first time Olympian, will also play as an attacker for Team USA. Water polo is additionally represented by Cal alums out of the pool. Gavin Arroyo, Cal alum and two-time member of the U.S. Olympic men’s water polo team, is assistant coach. Chris Oeding, who led the Golden Bears to two NCAA championships, is named as Team USA women’s water polo assistant coach. Cal rising senior and three-time All American Kitty Lynn Joustra will represent the Netherlands women’s water polo team. Rising senior Emma Wright and alums Kindred Paul and Kelly McKee will compete for Canada’s women’s water polo team. Former Cal All-American Anna “Nusi” Illes will compete for Hungary in her second consecutive Olympic appearence. 

Rowing is composed of many Golden Bears this summer. Kendall Chase and Kara Kohler will represent the U.S. women’s crew team. Chase, a Women’s Four competitor, finished fourth in the four at the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Kohler won a bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in the quadruple sculls event. Julian Venonsky, who won the second varsity eight at the 2014 Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Championships while at UC Berkeley, will compete as a coxswain in the men’s eight, representing Team USA. 

Cal alums will also compete for several international rowing teams as well. Rowan McKeller, World U23 silver medalist, will represent Great Britain in the women’s four. Sydney Payne will row for Canada in the women’s eight. Niki van Sprang and Joachim Sutton, both men’s rowing alums, will represent the Netherlands and Denmark respectively. At just 19 years old, incoming freshman men’s rower Gennaro di Mauro will compete for the Italian Olympic Team in the single scull. Incoming senior, Olav Molenaar, will row for the Netherlands in the quadruple sculls, freshman Tim Roth will compete for Switzerland, and freshman Iwan Hadfield will row for Great Britain in the pair,

The Golden Bears are ready to make a splash this Olympic season. Abbey Weitzeil and Katie McLaughlin will swim for Team USA. Weitzeil, a two-time Olympic medalist, returns to swim in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, and 4 x 100-meter freestyle events. McLaughlin will make her Olympic debut and compete in the 4 x 200 relay event. 

Team USA not only features Golden Bears competitors but coaches as well. Teri McKeever served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s swim team in London in 2012, a team that collected 13 medals. This summer, McKeever will continue to coach the women’s team. David Durden, who coached six Cal swimmers to 11 Olympic medals in the 2016 Rio Olympics, will coach men’s swimming.

Ryan Murphy, a three-time Olympic medal winner and world record holder in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, will be returning to the Olympic stage this summer. Tom Shields, 2016 Olympic medal winner, returns as well to compete in the 100 and 200-meter butterfly competitions. Team USA is joined by Olympic newcomers Andrew Seliskar, 200-meter freestyle, and Bryce Mefford, 200-meter backstroke. 

Golden Bears swimmers are included on several international teams. Rising sophomore, Bjorn Seelinger will represent Sweden in the 50-meter freestyle event. Ema Rajic, rising senior, will represent Croatia in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke. Farida Osman will compete for Egypt in the 100-meter fly. Alicia Wilson, first-time Olympian, will swim for Great Britain in the 200-meter individual medley. Stephanie Au, Olympic veteran, and Camille Cheng will represent Hong Kong. Olympic newcomer and incoming freshman Robin Hanson will compete for Sweden in the men’s 200-meter freestyle. Zheng Wen Quah returns for his third Olympic season, representing Singapore in the 100 and 200-meter fly competitions. Hugo Gonzalez will swim for Spain in his second Olympic Games in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley.

We greatly look forward to watching our alums in Tokyo this summer! Go Bears!

by Josephine Thornton