Before I get into this – one note about the Opening Ceremony (well, several notes, but I only have time for one). Paul McCartney’s performance. At the Olympics, an international event symbolizing peace and global unity, WHY play “Hey Jude”??? I mean, I love the song, but in this context, isn’t it painfully obvious that he should have played “Come Together” (instead of the Arctic Monkeys) or “Give Peace a Chance”? Come on.
Anyways, with the 2012 London Olympic Games starting last night, we figured we should take a look at all those connected to Notre Dame who would be competing. The Irish have nine athletes who will be partaking in this year’s games (though not all for Team USA) and without further ado, here they are:
Mariel Zagunis (fencing – foil) – We already covered Zagunis’ honor as flag-bearer at the Opening Ceremony here. But to rehash, Zagunis has won the last two gold medals in fencing (foil), the first coming when she snuck into the competition as an alternate and upset every opponent on the way to gold. She is, obviously, one of the favorites to win gold again this year
Shannon Box (women’s soccer) – Also a two-time gold medalist, Boxx plays midfield for Team USA women’s soccer. After winning a national championship for the Irish in 1995, she has gone on to be one of the best players in the world, being nominated for FIFA Player of the Year in 2005. At age 35, this may be her last Olympics, so we wish her luck as Team USA, the favorites again this year, seek another gold.
Molly Huddle (distance running) – Huddle (’07) will be competing in the 5000 meter race. While not necessarily a favorite to medal (damn Ethiopians), she did set the American record for the event in 2008 with a time of 14:44.76.
Courtney Hurley (fencing – epee) – Hurley is still in her senior year at Notre Dame, and while she, too, is not favored to medal, she is #1 in her event (fencing – epee) in the United States.
Lee Keifer (fencing – foil) – At age 18, Keifer is an incoming freshman at ND. Since I’m a bit late on getting this list out, she has actually been eliminated already in the quarterfinals today. However, she could still medal as she is competing in the foil team event (with Zagunis), and obviously has a bright future with several more Olympics ahead.
Team “America’s Hat”
Natalie Achonwa (women’s basketball) – we’ve already talked about Achonwa as well, but, sadly, Canada was also eliminated from the tournament earlier today, losing to Russia 58-53. Though Canada’s coach blamed the loss on Canada’s “best post player” being in foul trouble, resulting in too many minutes for Achonwa, I’d suggest the opposite – Achonwa didn’t play enough. Still only 19 year old, she’ll certainly be back next Olympics, and hopefully the coach will get her act together and just feed Natalie in the post. All game.
Melissa Tancredi & Candace Chapman (women’s soccer) – Chapman, a defender, and Tancredi, a forward, will be hoping to topple the favorited Team USA. We hope that they fail, but if they can make it to the championship without encountering the Americans, we’d be happy for them to get a silver medal.
Selim Nurudeen (men’s hurdles) – Nurudeen will be running in the men’s 110 meter hurdles. A dominant runner in the African Championships (silver in 2010), he, too, is not favorited to medal. But again, we hope he beats everyone except the Americans – good luck.
Former Notre Dame fencing star and 2-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis has been voted by Team USA to carry the American flag at the Opening Ceremonies this Friday. While we’ll be taking a closer look at all the Domers competing in the Olympics tomorrow, Zagunis receiving such an honor is worthy of special-mention. Zagunis, a former resident of Pasquerilla East Hall, will be seeking her 3rd consecutive gold medal after shocking the world at the Athens Games in 2004, winning gold as an alternate allowed to compete only when a Nigerian fencer dropped out of competition. Congratulations to Mariel – we wish her luck as she tries to defend her title in Olympic sabre.