The 2020 Summer Olympic Games begin this week after being postponed for a full year due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. Tokyo, Japan will be the games’ host for a second time, after previously serving as the host city for the 1964 Summer Olympics. Though the event is being held in 2021, it will still be officially branded and advertised as “Tokyo 2020” and referred to as the “2020” Summer Olympic Games.
The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games will have already started and possibly concluded by the time you read this post. Japan Standard Time is 14 hours ahead of North America’s Central Time, and while NBC will broadcast an encore of the opening ceremony tonight in prime time, its scheduled start time was actually around 6:00 am Central Time this morning. If you’re in the U.S. and plan on watching a lot of the Olympic action live, be prepared to be awake for a lot of early morning or late at night start times for events. To see NBC’s Olympics broadcast schedule, click here.
The rest of this post will be a Texas Longhorn-centric preview of the 2020 Olympic games, and if you want to get a little more pumped to see your favorite Olympians — Longhorns or not — over the next two weeks, you can read along while listening to the indelible sounds of Leo Arnaud’s “Bugler’s Dream” and John Williams’s “Olympic Fanfare”, the latter of which was composed for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
The University of Texas has had a regular presence at the Summer Olympics over the past 85 years. Nearly 170 current or former Texas Longhorns have been Olympic athletes, and there has been at least one athlete with UT ties at every Summer Olympic games that have been held since 1936.
According to a press release earlier this week from the UT Athletics Department, 26 current, former, or future Longhorn athletes (along with two current UT coaches) are scheduled to participate in the 2020 games, which will have their opening ceremony today and will conclude on Sunday, August 8.
If the University of Texas sent an #Olympics2021 contingent, it would be larger than 128 participating countries.— Longhorn Republic (@LonghornPod) July 21, 2021
Those Olympic participants, their sports/events, and the countries they will represent are as follows:
Kevin Durant (USA)
Ariel Atkins (USA)
Jordan Windle (USA) - 10-meter Platform
Alison Gibson (USA) - Synchronized 3-meter Springboard
Hailey Hernandez (USA) - 3-meter Springboard
Jhonattan Vegas (Venezuela)
Gia Doonan (USA) - Women’s Eight
Julia Grosso (Canada)
Cat Osterman (USA)
Caspar Corbeau (The Netherlands) - 100 meter breaststroke, 200 meter breaststroke
Townley Haas (USA) - 200 meter freestyle, 4x200 meter freestyle relay
Drew Kibler (USA) - 4x200 meter freestyle relay
Joseph Schooling (Singapore) - 100 meter butterfly, 100 meter freestyle
Anna Elendt (Germany) - 100 meter breaststroke, 4x100 meter medley relay
Joanna Evans (The Bahamas) - 200 meter freestyle, 400 meter freestyle
Remedy Rule (Philippines) - 100 meter butterfly, 200 meter butterfly
Erica Sullivan (USA) - 1,500 meter freestyle
Men’s Track & Field
Ryan Crouser (USA) - Shot Put
Jonathan Jones (Barbados) - 400 meters
Steffin McCarter (USA) - Long Jump
Women’s Track & Field
Teahna Daniels (USA) - 100 meters
Tara Davis (USA) - Long Jump
Melissa Gonzalez (Colombia) - 400 meter hurdles
Pedrya Seymour (The Bahamas) - 100 meter hurdles
Stacy Ann Williams (Jamaica) - 4x400 meter relay
Chiaka Ogbogu (USA)
Matt Scoggin (USA) - Assistant Diving Coach
Erik Sullivan (USA) - Men’s Volleyball Team Leader
For most members of the Texas Longhorn delegation, this will be their first time to compete on the Olympic stage, but both coaches and seven of the above-listed athletes have previous Olympic experience.
Returning Texas Longhorn Olympians
Matt Scoggin, UT’s longtime head diving coach, competed in the 10 meter platform at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and has been a coach with the U.S. Olympic diving team on three previous occasions: in 2000, 2008, and 2012. He has coached two Olympic gold medalists in his career, and in these games he’ll get to work with a current (Jordan Windle), former (Alison Gibson), and future (Hailey Hernandez, who will be a freshman at UT this fall) Longhorn diver. Coaching at the Tokyo Olympics will be a sort of homecoming for Scoggin, as he was born in the nearby city of Saitano. His father was a United States Air Force officer who was stationed in Japan at the time, and he lived in that country until the age of 2.
Erik Sullivan, the Associate Head Coach for UT’s volleyball team who will be the Team Leader for the American men’s volleyball team in Tokyo, played on the U.S. men’s volleyball team at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. He also served as the team manager for the U.S. men’s volleyball team at the 2016 Olympics.
Former Longhorn great and future basketball Hall-of-Famer Kevin Durant will be competing in his third Olympic games. He was the leading scorer on the gold medal-winning U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball teams in both 2012 and 2016, averaging 19 points per game in those two international runs. In Olympic or FIBA World Cup games in which Kevin Durant has suited up, Team USA is 25-0.
Jhonattan Vegas, a member of the UT men’s golf team from 2004 to 2007, will represent his native Venezuela in the Olympic golf competition for a second time. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Vegas finished with a four-round score of 5 over par, and tied with two others for the 50th best score out of the 59 Olympic golfers who completed all four rounds. He will turn 36 next month.
UT Athletics Hall of Honor inductee, Texas Sports Hall of Famer, and former BON contributor Cat Osterman will be competing in her third Olympic games. She pitched for the U.S. Olympic softball teams that won gold in 2004 and silver in 2008. Softball was removed from the Olympic program after the 2008 games and was not a competition sport in 2012 or 2016. Osterman retired from pro softball in the mid-2010s, but came out of retirement to pitch for the U.S. women’s national team after softball was officially added to the program for the 2020 games. This will assuredly be her final Olympic appearance as a player, as softball is not currently part of the program for the 2024 Olympics. She has already had her first Olympic action in Tokyo; she was the winning pitcher as Team USA topped Italy 2-0 in its first opening round game late Tuesday night. In March she was a guest on the Longhorn Republic podcast, hosted by BON’s Gerald Goodridge and Kyle Carpenter. You can listen to that brief 14-minute episode here.
Former Longhorn swimmer Townley Haas will be competing in his second Olympic games. In 2016 he finished 5th in the 200 meter freestyle, and swam the second leg of the gold medal-winning American 4x200 meter freestyle relay team. He is scheduled to compete in the same events at this year’s games. He finished 2nd in the 200m freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 1:45.66, which was 0.63 slower than his personal best in that event.
Former Longhorn swimmer Joseph Schooling, who turned 26 last month, will compete in the 100 meter butterfly at the Olympics for a second time, representing his home country Singapore. At the 2016 Olympics, he broke Michael Phelps’s Olympic record in that event with a time of 50.39, and in the process won the first-ever Olympic gold medal by a Singaporean athlete.
Former Longhorn swimmer Joanna Evans will represent The Bahamas in the women’s Olympic swimming field for a second time, and will compete in the 200 and 400 meter freestyle. At the 2016 Olympics she competed in the 200, 400, and 800 meter freestyle, but did not advance beyond the initial heats in any of her three events. She holds the Bahamian women’s swimming records in the freestyle at every distance between 200 and 1,500 meters, as well as both the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys. Evans will turn 24 on Sunday.
And Ryan Crouser, who won the gold medal in the shot put at the 2016 games with an Olympic record heave of 73’10.5”, will attempt to defend his title in Tokyo and become the first American to win consecutive gold medals in the shot put since Parry O’Brien (1952-56). He’ll be the sure favorite in the event, having set new indoor and outdoor shot put world records within the past six months. At the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in June, he won the shot put final by a full three feet, setting a new world record in the event with a throw of 76’8.25”. This bested the former world record in the event by ten inches. The rules of online college sports fandom discourse require me to mention that the shot put record that Crouser broke — which had stood for 31 years — was previously held by a Texas A&M Aggie, Randy Barnes.
Texas Longhorn Olympic fun facts
- With 26 athletes competing in Tokyo who have past, present, or future Texas Longhorn ties, these 2020 Olympics will be tied with the 1988 and 2000 Summer Olympics for having the largest Longhorn contingent in Olympic history, according to UT Athletics. 25 Longhorns competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. By the time the 2024 Olympics conclude, the number of all-time Longhorn Olympians will likely be over 200.
- Texas Longhorn athletes competing at past Olympic games have represented 24 countries: the United States, Antigua, Australia, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Great Britain, Haiti, Iceland, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.
- Four new countries will be added to that list by the end of the 2020 Olympics. Swimmer Anna Elendt, who just completed her freshman year at Texas, will be the first Longhorn to represent Germany at the Olympics. Hurdler Melissa Gonzalez, who ran for the UT women’s track & field team from 2013 to 2016, will be the first Longhorn Olympian to represent Colombia, her father’s birthplace. Current Longhorn sprinter Jonathan Jones will be the first UT Olympian to represent Barbados. And former All-American swimmer Remedy Rule, who has stated that she plans to retire from competitive swimming after the Olympics, will be the first Longhorn to represent The Philippines.
- Longhorn athletes at past Olympic games have competed in baseball, basketball (both men’s and women’s), men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving (both men’s and women’s), men’s tennis, track & field (both men’s and women’s), women’s volleyball, men’s wrestling, and women’s bobsleigh.
- Soccer and rowing will be added to that list with the Tokyo games. UT soccer midfielder and British Columbia native Julia Grosso is on the roster for Team Canada in the women’s soccer competition, and she will be the first UT soccer Olympian. She did not play in Canada’s 1-1 draw with Japan in its first pool play match on Wednesday. Gia Doonan, a member of the UT women’s rowing team from 2014 to 2017 and a three-time All-American, is part of the U.S. women’s eight rowing team and be the first UT alum to compete in rowing at the Olympic games. The UT Athletics Department’s list of all-time Longhorn Olympians includes 2016 Olympic rower Kate Bertko, a former UT rowing assistant coach, though Bertko is a Princeton alum and never competed for Texas.
- Kevin Durant and Cat Osterman will be competing in their third Olympic games. They’ll join a select group of Longhorn athletes who have been three-time Olympians. That group also includes: swimmers Ian Crocker (2000-08), Gary Hall, Jr. (1996-2004), Brendan Hansen (2004-12), Aaron Piersol (2000-08), Jill Sterkel (1976-88), and Joscelin Yeo (1992-2000); divers Troy Dumais (2000-12), Vera Ilyina (1992-2004), and Laura Wilkinson (2000-08); and track & field athletes Michelle Carter (2008-16), Juliet Cuthbert (1984-96), Kamiel Maase (2000-08), Sandie Richards (1988-2004), Sanya Richards-Ross (2004-12), and Einar Vilhjalmsson (1984-92).
- The club of four-time Longhorn Olympians is comprised of: American diver Troy Dumais, Russian diver Vera Ilyina, Jamaican sprinter Juliet Cuthbert, Jamaican sprinter Sandie Richards, and American swimmer Jill Sterkel. Though Sterkel made the U.S. Olympic team for every summer games between 1976 and 1988, she only competed at three of them for reasons outside of her control; the United States was one of 65 countries that boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Sandie Richards competed for Jamaica at every Summer Olympics from 1988 to 2004, and is the only Longhorn to be a five-time Olympian. She was 35 at her final Olympic appearance in Athens in 2004, in which she earned a bronze medal running the anchor leg on Jamaica’s 4x400 meter relay team.
- The age gap between the oldest and youngest member of the Longhorn contingent at the Tokyo Olympics is just shy of 20 years. The aforementioned Cat Osterman turned 38 in April, three and a half weeks after diver Hailey Hernandez — at the time a senior at Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas — turned 18. Hernandez was just one year old when Osterman competed in her first Olympic games in 2004.
- According to UT Athletics, Longhorn Olympians have won a combined 144 medals (83 gold, 38 silver, and 23 bronze). That medal count has been topped by only 29 countries, even including the medals won at both the Summer and Winter Olympics! Helen Upperton’s silver medal with Canada’s women’s bobsleigh group at the 2010 Winter Olympics is the only Winter Olympics medal won by a Longhorn.
- At least two pairs of Longhorn siblings have been Olympic athletes. Brothers Justin and Troy Dumais competed together in the men’s synchronized 3-meter springboard at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Troy was also a member of the 2000, 2008, and 2012 Olympic teams. He won his only Olympic medal, a bronze, with Kristian Ipsen in the synchronized 3-meter springboard at the 2012 London Olympics. Sisters Marshevet and Destinee Hooker have also both competed on the Olympic stage, though in different sports. Marshavet ran for the U.S. women’s track team and finished 5th in the 200 meters at the 2008 Olympics, while Destinee (who was an outstanding track athlete herself while in high school) was a member of the U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team that won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics.
All-Time UT Olympians by sport (UT Athletics)
Riley Zayas’s Longhorn Olympic preview for Horns Illustrated
Olympic Schedule & Results (Olympics.com)