Solo Shuts Out Brazil, USA Wins Gold
Former Husky goalkeeper comes up with big saves in closing minutes to preserve victory
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Whipple, Cummins Win Gold For USA
Sunday was a stellar day for Husky rowers in Beijing at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park. Former UW athletes registered three medals, including golds by Team USA's Anna Cummins (Mickelson) and Mary Whipple in the Women's 8+ ... click here to read more
Huskies Presence to be felt in Beijing
SEATTLE -- August 8, marks the long-awaited opening of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games held in Beijing, China. Seventeen representatives from the University of Washington will be taking their turns on the world's biggest athletics stage over the course of the Games, which run until August 24. All told, more than 10,000 athletes will be united to compete in 302 events in 28 sports, embracing the theme of "One World, One Dream."
Former Huskies will represent a total of five countries at the 29th Olympiad. The majority will compete for the U.S.A., with several others representing Canada, and one each for Germany, South Africa, and Croatia. Washington's total number of participants is among the most of any university in the country.
Washington athletes will be participating in men's and women's rowing, track and field, softball, men's basketball and women's soccer. And providing a soundtrack for the Games is Husky Marching Band director Brad McDavid, who will serve as the Artistic Director of the RED Orchestra, one of three core units that make up the 2,000-member Olympic Orchestra.
The largest group of Husky Olympians by sport comes from Washington's vaunted crew programs. Six male and four female rowers will compete at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing Park beginning Aug. 9 with the finals on Aug. 16-17.
Returning for their second Olympic Games are 2002 graduates Anna (Mickelson) Cummins and Mary Whipple. The pair won silver medals in Athens in 2004 as part of the U.S.A.'s women's eight, and Cummins will be back in that boat again this year, with Whipple once again serving as coxswain of America's most prestigious women's crew. The two also shared the same shell for three NCAA titles during their time at Washington, and also won gold medals at the 2006 and 2007 World Championships. In addition to the women's eight, Cummins will row in the coxless pair event.
Also representing the U.S. will be Megan Kalmoe, a 2006 alum, who will compete in the scull pairs. Rika Geyser, a 2001 grad, will be rowing for South Africa in the single scull.
On the men's side, Brett Newlin and Giuseppe Lanzone will each compete for the U.S. in the men's straight four, and Scott Gault is entered in the four-man scull. Newlin, a member of the class of 2005, was named the 2006 U.S. Rowing Male Athlete of the Year, and is a three-time National Team member. Lanzone was a National Team member in 2006 and 2007, helping the U.S. to a bronze in the men's eight at the 2006 World Championships. Gault made the National Team in 2005 and 2006. All three are making their first Olympic appearances.
Rowing for Team Canada in Beijing will be David Calder (class of 2001) in the men's coxless pair. Calder will be journeying to his third Olympics, having competed in the same event in Athens, and the men's eight which took fifth in 2000 in Sydney, Australia. Current senior Rob Gibson is a spare on the team as well.
Ante Kusurin will be rowing in the two-man for the Croatian team. He lettered at Washington from 2002-2006, and redshirted the 2004 season to train with the Croatian national team.
Track & Field
American pole vault record-holder Brad Walker likely provides the best chance at an individual gold medal among the UW alums. Walker is already proven on the international scene, having won two World Championship gold medals, and he is the world's top-ranked vaulter after setting the American record of 19-feet 9 ¾- inches back in June. Current Husky Assistant Coach Pat Licari remains Walker's coach and is accompanying him to Beijing."Brad Walker literally raised the bar for our track program," said track and field head coach Greg Metcalf. "He is the ultimate success story, coming to Washington on a books scholarship and leaving on a full scholarship with two NCAA Titles and a Pac-10 Record. Brad is a shining example of what you can do with some talent and hard work. Every person that is or has been involved in our program is excited for Brad and for what he is about to do."
Another Husky alum whose legend continues to grow is discus thrower Aretha (Hill) Thurmond. Thurmond won the women's discus throw at the Olympic Trials by a wide margin, giving Thurmond her fourth U.S. Championship. A four-time All-American during her collegiate days, Thurmond gave birth to her first child in June of 2007, but decided shortly after that she wasn't ready to call it quits. Thurmond left her job as director of the Big `W' Club at Washington to train full time once again, and the decision resulted in her third Olympic Games. She also competed in 1996 and 2004.
"Aretha is easily one of the single most outstanding people I have ever met," Metcalf says. "You cannot walk away from being around her and not be positively affected. She just washes over you. She is energetic and infectious and makes every situation she is in better. Making three Olympic Teams is an incredible accomplishment. She was a leader in our program and is a leader on the U.S. Olympic Team.
"Aretha and Brad are both from the state of Washington, they were team captains, great students, great competitors, great people," says Metcalf. "They exemplify what the University of Washington and being a Husky is all about."
The track and field competition begins August 15th at the Beijing National Stadium.
One of the most recognizable faces of these 29th Olympic Games is bound to be Husky great Hope Solo, who will start at goalie for the U.S. women's soccer team as they try to defend their 2004 gold. This season, Solo has been in goal for the USA in the championship game of Four Nations Tournament and the Algarve Cup, the crucial semi-final victory in Olympic Qualifying that sent the USA to China, and the championship game of the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea.
Anchoring the defense of Team Canada is former Husky standout Clare Rustad. A 2004 grad, Rustad has already amassed 41 caps with the Canadian National Team, and played on the team that finished second at the 2008 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament.
The soccer competition is the lone event to begin prior to the Opening Ceremonies. The Americans face Norway this Wednesday, Aug. 6, while Canada, which is making its first Olympic appearance, opens with Argentina.
This is the final year for now for fastpitch softball in the Olympic Games, and while Team U.S.A. is a heavy favorite once again, British Columbia native and current Husky ace Danielle Lawrie will be leading Canada's gold rush.
Lawrie, a first team All-American in 2007 when she led the Huskies to the College World Series, redshirted the 2008 season to train with the Canadian National Team and prepare for these Olympic Games. The setting will be familiar to Lawrie. In October of 2007 at the China Cup held in Beijing, she helped the team to the silver medal as the Canadians won all three games that she started.
Lawrie also famously defeated Team U.S.A. at the 2005 World Cup, tossing a complete game and striking out seven prior to her freshman season at Washington.
The softball tournament begins Aug. 12 at the Fengtai Softball Stadium.Basketball
Patrick Femerling, a key member to the Husky Men's Basketball team that made a Sweet Sixteen appearances in 1998, has made a nice living for himself overseas playing professionally. The seven-footer will join NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman to give the German's a formidable frontline. The German's are making their first Olympic appearance since the 1992 games. Germany was the 12th and final qualifier for the Beijing Games, defeating Puerto Rico in the final game of the final qualifying tournament.