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UK sending 21 athletes to Tokyo Olympics

The Big Blue Nation will be well represented when the Tokyo Olympics begin July 21, with 21 athletes either played at UK or have university ties.

Track and field dominates the list of qualifiers with University of Kentucky ties, with 1nine total athletes competing, including two world-record holders. But Kentucky has athletes representing men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s basketball, rifle, softball and fencing from across the globe.

Here is a rundown of who to watch as the games begin:

Track & Field

Coming off her world record-setting performance in the 400-meter hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin earned her second trip to the Olympics.

2015 UK graduate and UK Athletics Hall of Famer Keni Harrison, who set the world record in the 100 hurdles shortly after the 2016 Olympics, qualified for the first time in that event, winning the U.S. Olympic Trials in a time of 12.47 seconds.

Alumna Javianne Oliver ’18 earned her trip to Tokyo by placing second in the 100-meter dash in 10.99 seconds. She advanced to the finals by finishing second in the semifinals with a time of 10.83 seconds.

They will be joined at the Olympics by Jasmine Camacho-Quinn ’19, who will represent Puerto Rico in the 100 hurdles, and Leah Nugent ’15, who made the Jamaican team in the 400m hurdles. Sophomore All-American Megan Moss will run as part of the 1,600 relay for Team Bahamas after finishing third in the 400 at The Bahamas Athletics Championships.

On the men’s side, Daniel Roberts, the 2019 Southeastern Conference champion in the 110 hurdles, two-time double NCAA runner-up and U.S. Champion, was third in the final, running a season best 13.11 seconds.

Recent graduate Dwight St. Hillaire will be competing in the 400-meter dash and be a member of the 4x400m relay team for Team Trinidad and Tobago. St. Hillaire is coming off a first-team All-America performance in the 400-meters and 1,600-meter relay at NCAA Outdoor Championships. 

Current UK volunteer assistant coach Devynne Charlton, who ran collegiately at Purdue for current UK coach Lonnie Greene, will represent the Bahamas in the 100 hurdles.

Basketball

Kentucky basketball stars Bam Odebayo and Devin Booker have been selected for the U.S. men’s basketball squad. The two were later joined by Keldon Johnson. Three other Wildcats – Tyler Herro, Immanuel Quickley and PJ Washington – were chosen for the 2021 USA Basketball Select Team that will train with the Olympic squad.


Jennifer O’Neill ’15, an All-SEC performer for the UK Women, will play for Puerto Rico.

Rifle

The 2021 national champion UK Rifle squad is sending two athletes to Tokyo. All-American and overall national champion Mary Tucker, qualified in both women’s smallbore and women’s air rifle and Will Shaner also qualified in air rifle.

Former Wildcat Henrik Larson, who won the individual air rifle national title at the 2018 NCAA Championships, will compete in the men’s 50-meter smallbore for Norway.

Softball

Former player and current director of softball operations, Brittany Cervantes ’12 ’20 will play for Mexico in the first Olympic Games to have softball since the 2008 summer games in Beijing. Softball signee Alexia Lacatena was named as a 2020 Tokyo participant and will represent Team Italy in the Olympics.

Swimming and Diving

Former UK All-American Ali Galyer ’20, the school record holder in 400-meter medley relay, 400 freestyle relay, 800 freestyle relay, will swim the 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke and 400 freestyle for New Zealand, where her father was born and she has citizenship for athletics.

Peter Wetzlar ’20, who holds the UK records 50 free, 200 medley relay and 200 and 400 freestyle relays, will represent his native Zimbabwe in the 50 freestyle. He is one of five athletes representing the country.

Fencing

Lee Kiefer did not play a sport at UK, she was a fencer at Notre Dame. However, she attends the UK College of Medicine and will be making her third trip to the Olympics as a member of the U.S. fencing team. She is the top-ranked U.S. fencer and is ranked fifth in the world.

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