UCLA to Have Large Presence at 2008 Olympic Games
July 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES - Looking to add to its rich Olympic history yet again in 2008, UCLA will send a total of 39 athletes and coaches to this summer's Olympic Games, which will be held Aug. 8-24 in Beijing, China. Of the 39 Bruins traveling to Beijing, 33 are participating as athletes, while six are participating as coaches.
UCLA was one of the nation's most successful universities at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, ranking No. 1 among all universities in number of different medalists (19) and number of Olympians (57 representing the United States and 13 foreign countries). Of the 19 medals UCLA took home in 2004, eight were gold, eight were bronze and three were silver. If UCLA were a country, it would have placed 14th overall in the medal count.
A majority of UCLA's 2008 contingent will be representing the United States (29). Nine other countries will also be represented by Bruins, including Australia (1), Bahamas (1), Belize (1), Canada (2), Great Britain (1), Korea (1), Poland (1), Singapore (1) and Trinidad & Tobago (1). A large number of the UCLA athletes and coaches will be competing in the areas of women's track & field (8) and softball (6). Other sports represented by Bruins include: men's soccer (4), women's soccer (3), women's water polo (3), men's water polo (2), men's track & field (2), men's tennis (2), women's swimming (2), women's beach volleyball (2), men's rowing (2), men's indoor volleyball (1), men's beach volleyball (1) and women's gymnastics (1).
The U.S. women's track & field team will be led by current UCLA head coach Jeanette Bolden, a gold medalist herself at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Bruin athletes joining her on the U.S. squad will be Amy Acuff (high jump), Jessica Cosby (hammer), Dawn Harper (100m hurdles), Monique Henderson (4x400m relay) Suzy Powell (discus) and Sheena (Johnson) Tosta (400m hurdles). UCLA senior-to-be Rhonda Watkins will compete in the long jump for Trinidad & Tobago.
Both of the Bruins' men's track & field athletes in China will be representing non-U.S. countries, as pole vaulter Yoo Kim and 400-meter hurdler Jonathan Williams are looking to win medals for Korea and Belize, respectively.
The U.S. softball team will once again have a heavy Bruin presence with Stacey Nuveman, Andrea Duran, Tairia Mims Flowers, Natasha Watley and Lisa Fernandez (alt.) all members of that team. Nuveman, Mims Flowers, Watley and Fernandez were all members of Team USA's gold-medal winning squad in 2004.
All three women's soccer representatives are currently involved with the UCLA program, as head coach Jillian Ellis will serve as an assistant with the U.S. team, while Lauren Cheney (U.S.) and Kara Lang (Canada) will be competing as athletes at the Games. Cheney, who was originally named an alternate, was a late addition to the 18-player U.S. squad following an injury to forward Abby Wambach.
A total of five Bruins (3 women, 2 men) will be traveling to Beijing as members of USA Water Polo teams. Current assistant coach and former player Brandon Brooks joins Adam Wright on the men's team. Former UCLA head coach Guy Baker will lead the U.S. women's team, which also features Natalie Golda and Jaime Hipp.
Former UCLA soccer standouts Marvell Wynne, Patrick Ianni and Benny Feilhaber were recently named to the 18-player U.S. squad for the Games. Frankie Hejduk was named an alternate on the team, which is seeking its first medal in Olympic competition.
Both of UCLA's representatives in men's tennis will be playing doubles, as Marcin Matkowski (Poland) and Mark Knowles (Bahamas) will each be competing in the 32-team doubles draw in Beijing. Knowles, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the world in doubles, is making his fifth appearance at the Olympics. It will mark the second appearance for Matkowski, who also competed in Athens in 2004.
Nicolette Teo (Singapore) and Kim Vandenberg (U.S.) are the Bruins' two representatives in women's swimming. Teo will be making her third Olympic appearance in the breastroke, while Vandenberg, who narrowly missed the Games in 2004, will be competing in her first Olympics as a member of Team USA's 800-meter freestyle relay team.
Former UCLA greats Elaine Youngs and Liz Masakayan will be teaming together in a player-coach relationship for the beach volleyball competition at the Games. Youngs, a 2004 bronze medalist in Athens, will be teaming with Nicole Branagh in Beijing, with Masakayan serving as the team's coach.
In men's rowing, new UCLA women's assistant coach Mark Hunter will represent Great Britain, while Mike Altman, an alumnus of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, will represent the U.S.
Sports with just one UCLA representative in Beijing are women's gymnastics (incoming freshman Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs/Canada), men's volleyball (John Speraw/USA Asst. Coach) and men's beach volleyball (Bob Alejo/coach of USA team Dalhausser and Rogers).
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