The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro are nearly upon us, as the opening ceremony kicks off this Friday night. While the build-up to the games has been marred by political scandal, economic crises, Zika virus concerns, dirty water, body parts showing up on beaches, and half-completed athlete villages, we can at least take solace in the fact that once again, numerous Nittany Lions will be representing their alma mater for five different countries, including the United States.
With that being said, here’s a quick rundown on who to cheer excessively for in Rio:
Coming off the heels of winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup last Summer, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and defender Ali Kreiger (pictured, above) will try and help the U.S. Women’s Soccer team claim a fourth consecutive gold medal.
On the men’s side of things, former All-American Matt Anderson will represent Team America for a second straight Olympics, as the Americans seek to avenge a fifth place finish in the London games and replicate their gold medal run circa 2008 in Beijing. Max Holt (USA), Aaron Russell (USA), and Carlos Guerra (Mexico) will also be a part of their respective countries’ rosters. Additionally, Guerra will be getting coached up by fellow PSU volleyball alum Ivan Contreras, who is currently an assistant coach for the Mexicans.
On the women's side, Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen and Alisha Glass will both play for the U.S. while Megan (Hodge) Easy and Nicole Fawcett will be alternates. After coming away with silver medals from London four years ago, the American women will be seeking to upgrade to gold ones in Rio.
Current PSU assistant coach and former wrestler Frank Molinaro will be heading to Rio after all, thanks in large part to a doping scandal. After initially believing he would be shut out of the Olympics, Molinaro will seek to make the most of his unexpected opportunity to bring home a medal for the Red, White and Blue in the 65 kg class.
Tom Hovasse, a standout under the legendary Bruce Parkhill in the mid-late 80’s is an assistant coach for Japan’s women’s squad. The Japanese women will seek to make a Cinderella-like run towards the medal podium against stalwarts such as the U.S., Spain, and Australia.
On the men’s side, former PSU fencers Miles Chamley-Watson (USA) and Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi (Mexico) will make their second consecutive Olympic appearances and will both seek to make it to the medal podium this time around, particularly Chamley-Watson, who came into the London Games ranked #2 in the foil but suffered a second round upset. On the women’s side, PSU alums Monica Aksamit and Katarzyna Trzopek will both make their Olympics debut in the sabre and epee events respectively, for the United States.
Men’s Track and Field
Former Nittany Lions Joe Kovacs and Darrell Hill will represent the US and A in the shot put. Additionally, current volunteer assistant coach Eddie Lovett will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 110-meter hurdles and will be coached by current PSU associate head coach, Erin Tucker.
American born-and-raised Shane Ryan, who took a year off from PSU specifically to train in Ireland for Olympic qualification in order to be able represent Ireland in Rio, will realize his Olympic dreams and will partake in the 50-meter backstroke (in which he broke the Irish record during qualifying) and 100-meter backstroke events. Ryan’s switching of allegiances last year resulted in some backlash against him, but you know, f**k the haters.
Men’s Track Cycling
PSU alum Bobby Lea will be making his third straight Olympic appearance, hoping that third time’s the charm for medaling. Additionally, current PSU student Matt Baranoski, who had taken off school the past couple of years to train for his Olympic opportunity (don’t worry, he’s slated to earn his PSU diploma this December), will hope to see his hard work pay off with a medal in Rio.
Below is a table recapping all of the Penn State Olympians:
|Aaron Russell||USA||Men's Volleyball|
|Ali Kreiger||USA||Womens' Soccer|
|Alisha Glass||USA||Women's Volleyball|
|Alyssa Naeher||USA||Womens' Soccer|
|Bobby Lea||USA||Men's Track Cycling|
|Carlos Guerra||Mexico||Men's Volleyball|
|Christa Dietzen (Harmotto)||USA||Women's Volleyball|
|Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi||Mexico||Men's Fencing (foil)|
|Darrell Hill||USA||Men's Track and Field (shot put)|
|Eddie Lovett||US Virgin Islands||Men's Track and Field (110m hurdles)|
|Erin Tucker||US Virgin Islands||Men's Track and Field (asst. coach)|
|Frank Molinaro||USA||Wrestling (65 kg)|
|Ivan Contreras||Mexico||Men's Volleyball (asst. coach)|
|Joe Kovacs||USA||Men's Track and Field (shot put)|
|Katarzyna Trzopek||USA||Women's Fencing (epee)|
|Matt Anderson||USA||Men's Volleyball|
|Matt Baranoski||USA||Men's Track Cycling|
|Max Holt||USA||Men's Volleyball|
|Megan Easy (Hodge)||USA||Women's Volleyball|
|Miles Chamley-Watson||USA||Men's Fencing (foil)|
|Monica Aksamit||USA||Women's Fencing (sabre)|
|Nicole Fawcett||USA||Women's Volleyball|
|Shane Ryan||Ireland||Men's Swimming (50m and 100m backstroke)|
|Tom Hovasse||Japan||Women's Basketball (asst. coach)|