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All That Glitters


By Wendy Soderburg '82

Published Jul 1, 2016 8:00 AM

For decades, UCLA has been a training ground for Olympic heroes. In dozens of sports, representing many countries, Bruins have excelled at the Summer Games. Now some two dozen UCLA athletes have been or likely will be chosen to represent their respective countries this summer in Rio.

Marathoner Meb Keflezighi will represent the U.S. for the fourth time. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

It's just not a Summer Olympics without Bruins.

Over the years, UCLA has sent some of the greatest athletes in the world to the Summer Games, including Evelyn Ashford, Shirley Babashoff, Donna de Varona, Gail Devers, Lisa Fernandez, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Rafer Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Karch Kiraly and Ann Meyers. Had the 1940 Olympic Games not been cancelled, Jackie Robinson would have competed in the long jump.

As of press time, many national teams had not yet named their final rosters for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The following Bruins, however, can already start packing their bags for Brazil:

Meb Keflezighi ’99 (U.S. track and field). The 2004 silver medalist in Athens, Keflezighi will represent the United States for the fourth time.

Nicholas Scarvelis ’16 (Greece, track and field). Scarvelis will compete in the shot put.

Howard Shu ’13, Iris Wang and Jamie Subandhi ’11 (U.S. badminton). Of the seven athletes USA Badminton will be sending to Rio, three are Bruins. Shu will be competing in men’s singles, Wang in women’s singles, and Subandhi in mixed doubles.

“I know that the chances of [our team] medaling will be very tough, especially coming from the Pan American region, where we are stereotypically ‘weaker,’ ” says Wang, whose older sister, Rena Wang ’15, is also a Bruin and former Olympian (2012). “But though it may be a very difficult feat, I know it’s not impossible.”

Shu adds, “Bruin pride runs deep for me, whether it’s having two fellow Bruins on the badminton team with me or just meeting other Bruins from other sports.”

After team selections and Olympic trials, these Bruins could find themselves in Rio:

Amy Acuff ’97 and Dawn Harper ’06 (U.S. track and field)

KK Clark ’12, Rachel Fattal, Kodi Hill, Sami Hill ’15, Courtney Mathewson ’08 and Alys Williams (U.S. women’s water polo)

Lauren Fendrick ’04 (U.S. women’s beach volleyball)

Nirra Fields (Canada, women’s basketball)

Jessie Fleming (Canada, women’s soccer)

Madison Kocian (U.S. women’s gymnastics)

Karsta Lowe ’15 (U.S. women’s indoor volleyball)

Gordon Marshall (Australia, men’s water polo)

Samantha Mewis ’14 and Mallory Pugh (U.S. women’s soccer)

Tori Peña ’10 (Ireland, track and field)

Maria Polyakova (Russia, women’s diving)

Alex Roelse and Josh Samuels ’13 (U.S. men’s water polo)

Giulia Sergas (Italy, women’s golf)

Mariajo Uribe (Colombia, women’s golf)

Julian Wruck ’14 (Australia, track and field)

Besides the athletes, there are four Bruins who will be coaching for Team USA: Adam Krikorian ’97 (women’s water polo); John Speraw ’95 (men’s indoor volleyball); Karch Kiraly ’83 (women’s indoor volleyball); and former UCLA Coach Jillian Ellis (women’s soccer).

“We all have different personalities or styles, but I do believe we all value similar characteristics, and I can’t help but think how much our time at UCLA impacted us in that way,” says Krikorian of his fellow coaches. “I have so much admiration for all three, and it’s great to share the passion of being a Bruin and representing the United States of America at the same time.”