Pac-12 sends impressive contingent to Rio Games
SAN FRANCISCO - Renowned for its tradition of excellence at the Summer Olympics, the Pac-12 Conference, with its 12 member institutions, will be well-represented again at the Games. When the XXXI Olympiad begins on Friday, August 5 with the Opening Ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 274 athletes, coaches and other officials with ties to Pac-12 institutions will be among those participating in the 17-day event. In addition to representing Pac-12 member schools, Olympians will also be representing 47 countries in 22 sports.
Of the 274 Pac-12 delegates, 140 go as part of the U.S. contingency. Of the 554 athletes named to Team USA, 116 are from Pac-12 schools, making up nearly 21 percent of the U.S. roster. For the second time in history, the Team USA roster will feature more female athletes than male and nearly a quarter of those female athletes have Pac-12 ties (68), including returning Olympic champions Missy Franklin (CAL), Katie Ledecky (STAN) and Kerri Walsh Jennings (STAN). Additionally, five women’s soccer players from the Conference will help Team USA defend its gold medal, as will the 12 water polo players that attend, will attend or are alumni of Pac-12 institutions. The number of women Pac-12 athletes on Team USA is testament to the Conference’s strength in women’s athletics.
On the men’s side, 18 percent of the Team USA roster are Pac-12 affiliated athletes (48), including returning Olympic champion and world record holder in the decathlon Ashton Eaton (ORE). Swimmer Nathan Adrian (CAL) also returns to defend his gold from the London Olympic Games and basketball NBA players Klay Thompson (WSU) and DeMar DeRozan (USC) will help Team USA go for gold again.
All 12 Pac-12 institutions has at least one international representative in the Rio Games. The country with the second-most delegates with Pac-12 affiliations is Canada at 24 and the Australia with 10.
Pac-12 athletes will compete in 22 sports. The sport with the most Conference-affiliated athletes is track & field with 55 from 18 countries, followed closely behind by 53 swimmers hailing from 21 countries. Thirty-four water polo Olympians will represent six countries and 28 rowers from seven different countries have Pac-12 connections, as well.
Every Pac-12 institution will be represented at the Olympic Games in Rio. CALIFORNIA will send the largest delegation of athletes, coaches, alternates and officials with 50, followed by USC with 49, STANFORD with 43 and UCLA with 34. The Trojans have the most Olympians competing with 44, followed by the Golden Bears (42), the Cardinal (39), and the Bruins (29).
Some of the most decorated and accomplished athletes participating in Rio are from the Pac-12, including Allyson Felix (USC) who is the most decorated female U.S. athlete competing in Rio. “Ageless Wonder” Bernard Lagat (ARIZ/WSU) qualified for his fifth Olympic Games, and Meb Keflezighi (UCLA) makes his fourth Olympics and is also the oldest American to qualify in the marathon.
Accompanying some of the world’s best athletes are some of the world’s best coaches that have spent time on the court, fields and pool decks at Pac-12 institutions. Head coach of the USA’s swimming team Bob Bowman is the current head coach of the ARIZONA STATE men’s and women’s squad, Oregon’s Vin Lananna who oversees OREGON's track & field programs was named head coach of the USA squad, and former Bruins Karch Kiraly (women’s volleyball), Adam Krikorian (women’s water polo) and John Speraw (men’s volleyball) are head coaches of their respective sports. In addition to the top names in those sports, several other coaching minds have been appointed head or assistant coaches to several USA squads, as well as international teams.
For the third-straight Games, the Pac-12 will claim over 250 Olympians (athlete, coaches, alternates and delegates). In 2012 in London, Pac-12 athletes won 45 total medals, ranking just ahead of Germany (44) had the Pac-12 been a nation. Of those gold, 19 were gold medals, which also would have ranked fifth among all countries. Medals were claimed in a variety of sports, both indoors (swimming, water polo, volleyball, cycling and diving) and outdoors (swimming, track & field, soccer, tennis, rowing and beach volleyball). Pac-12 athletes also set five world records, two Olympic records, an American record and a collegiate record during the London Games. The Conference sent a delegation of 259 athletes, coaches, staff to the Beijing Summer Games in 2008.
With Conference-affiliated athletes representing 46 countries in London, Pac-12 competitors won medals for nine different countries and eight of the 12 Pac-12 schools were represented on the medal podium. During the 2012 Olympics, USC led all universities across the nation with 25 total medals, Cal was third with 17 and Stanford had 16. The top-three gold medal-winning institutions across the country were from the Pac-12, with Stanford and USC each claiming 12. Cal had 11 to rank third, and UCLA's six medals tied for fifth.
Rio Olympians from Pac-12 Institutions
140- USA; 24 - Canada; 11 - Australia; 6 - Brazil, Hong Kong, Hungary; 5- Spain; 4 - Greece, New Zealand, South Africa; 3 - Bermuda, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Nigeria, Poland, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Sweden; 2 - Colombia, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Slovenia, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Venezuela; 1 - Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, Egypt, Guatemala, Ireland, Lebanon, Norway, Philippines, Peru, Russia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan.