The 2012 Summer Olympics are upon us (you watched that acid-trip of an opening ceremony last night, right?), which means it's time to settle in for two weeks (and change) of rampant nationalism and thrilling to sports you've never heard of (and a few you have). And, oh yeah, there are some Iowa ties to the Games, too.
There aren't any former Hawkeyes on Team USA -- Brent Metcalf was one of our best options on that front, but he came up short at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Iowa City back in April. But there are still former Hawkeyes competing in these Olympics.
Dragos Agache (Romania)
Swimming and Diving -- 100m breaststroke (July 28)
Agache competed for Iowa from 2005-07 and holds the school record in the 100m breaststroke. Unfortunately Agache's Olympics did not get off to a great start -- he finished last in his heat in the 100m breaststroke this morning and did not qualify for the semifinals later today.
Heather Arseth (Mauritius)
Swimming and Diving -- 200m freestyle (July 30)
Arseth is the only Olympian who's also a current UI athlete -- she's a sophomore who set a school record as a member of the 200m freestyle relay at the Big Ten Championships. I've gotta think that spending her summer break at the London Olympics probably gives her bragging rights over the rest of her teammates.
Kineke Alexander (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
Track and Field -- 400m (August 3)
Alexander is probably one of the most decorated UI athletes you've never heard of. Don't believe me? Here, read this summary of her accomplishments:
2008 Olympian in the 400 meters... competed at Iowa from 2005-08... 2006 indoor NCAA champion in the 400 meters... eight-time All-American, the most in school history... only Hawkeye to earn eight All-America honors in the same event... five-time Big Ten champion and five-time all-region honoree... two-time Midwest regional champion.
Pretty good, no? She wasn't able to qualify for the semifinals at the 2008 Games, but perhaps she'll have better luck this year. She was also one of two former Hawkeyes to serve as flag-bearer for her country, which is a pretty fantastic honor.
Diane Nukuri (Burundi)
Track and Field -- Marathon (August 5)
The other Hawkeye honored as flag-bearer for her country? Diane Nukuri. She was also a very accomplished runner at Iowa, like Alexander:
2000 Olympian in Sydney... competed at Iowa from 2006-08... 2007 Honda Award finalist in cross country... three-time All-American... three-time all-region honoree... two-time NCAA Midwest regional cross country champion... two-time Midwest Regional women's cross country runner of the Year... 2007 Big Ten cross country champion and women's cross country Athlete of the Year... set school 3,000 (9:47), 4,000 (13:14), 5,000 (15:55) and 6,000-meter (19:37) cross country records... set outdoor track school records in 3,000 (9:18.82) and 10,000 meters (33:17.01), and as part of 6,400-meter relay (19:15.42)... set indoor school record as part of distance medley relay (11:20.11)... won Big Ten outdoor 5,000-meter title in 2008.
Best of luck to her (and all the other Hawkeye Olympians) at this year's Games.
Aside from some UI connections to the Olympics, there are also some Iowa connections to the Games -- as in state of Iowa.
* Amanda Weir (400m freestyle relay) is from Davenport, IA (she went to college at the University of Georgia).
* Miranda Lee (archery) is from Des Moines, IA.
* A.G. Kruger (track and field - hammer toss) is from Sheldon, IA (he went to college at Morningside in Sioux City, IA)
* Lisa Uhl (10000m) is from Fort Dodge, IA (she went to college at Iowa State).
* Lolo Jones (100m hurdles) is from Des Moines, IA (she also went to college at LSU).
Good luck to all the Olympians with Iowa ties!