Longhorns Look to Make History at 2016 Rio Olympics

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More than 10,000 athletes will represent their respective counties at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, set to begin on Aug. 5. And 18 of the esteemed student-athletes and coaches are current, future, or former Longhorns, competing in six sports: basketball, diving, rowing, swimming, track and field, and volleyball.

It’s no secret that UT has a record of churning out successful Olympians. Texas history is lined with names like Neil Walker, a four-time medalist in swimming; Ian Crocker, a five-time Olympic medalist, and former world record-holder; Cat Osterman, a four-time All-American softball pitcher who won gold in 2004 and silver in 2008; and Josh Davis, who won three gold medals in swimming in 1996.

But the accolades don’t end there. In 2012, track star Sanya Richards-Ross won gold in both the 400 meters and the 4×400-meter relay, and new Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant was the leading scorer for Team USA’s gold medal-winning men’s basketball team. Since 1936, current or former Longhorns have won 130 Olympic medals, including 73 golds, 37 silvers, and 20 bronzes. According to Fox Sports, if UT had competed as its own country in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, its 10 gold medals would’ve ranked eighth in the world, behind South Korea and ahead of Japan.

While many say they are expecting nothing less than greatness out of the athletes performing in the 2016 Olympics, Texas head track and field head coach Mario Sategna—who is among the 18 Longhorns who will participate in Rio—says he’s proud of the Longhorns for making it this far.

“This doesn’t define your career. It doesn’t define you as a person. You’ve earned this right to get to the trials, and ultimately for any of those athletes who advance to Rio, when you look back, again that’s where behind the scenes, the athletes have anything they need. At the end of the day, you’re the best of the best,” Sategna said at a press conference on June 24.

However, there has been some controversy concerning the upcoming Rio games, the latest being the spread of the Zika virus, which was declared a public health emergency in February. Many officials say they’re worried that the mosquito-borne virus—which is centered in Brazil—could affect travel to the game, especially in pregnant women. Another source of contention is the infectious bacteria in Rio’s waters. In test events that took place last year, 13 rowers on the 40-member U.S. team fell ill, and doctors believed it was due to pollution where the competition took place.

Despite some of the issues revolving around the game, Longhorns are still aiming to win big this summer. Notable UT alumni include Kevin Durant, Marielle Hall, and Jimmy Feigan, who will represent the U.S. in men’s basketball, women’s track and field in the 10,000-meters, and men’s swimming in the 4×100m freestyle relay, respectively. Some current Longhorn faces in the Olympics include Jack Conger, Ryan Crouser, and Townley Haas, who will compete in men’s swimming in the 4×200m freestyle relay, men’s track and field in shot put, and men’s swimming in both the 200-meter freestyle and the 4×200m freestyle relay, respectively.

The competing Longhorns have already wowed crowds with their athletic accomplishments. Texas track and field recently swept the men’s and women’s titles in American shot put. Crouser made headlines after he surpassed 22 meters for the first time in his career on the first day of the Olympic Trials.

Alumna Michelle Carter also claimed the women’s shot put title with a new meet record of 19.59 meters. It also marked the first time the top five finishers for the women all threw over 60 feet.

To track all current and former Longhorns as they compete in Rio, fans can go here.

 

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