Seven current or former Gopher athletes are competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. several have completed their competitions and won medals, and several others are in finals this weekend as the Olympics wrap up on Sunday. Here is a recap/ preview of all the Gopher Olympians:
Daly Santana--Volleyball--Puerto Rico
Former Gopher All-American and 2015 Big Ten Player of the Year Daly Santana made the Puerto Rican Olympic Volleyball team. The Puerto Rico team went 0-5 in pool play and did not qualify for the medal round. Santana played in all five matches and started several sets for the Puerto Rican team.
Smith is the only current gopher Olympian in Rio. She helped the University of Minnesota win three straight Big Ten Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and was crowned NCAA Champion in the 200 breaststroke in 2015 and was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Year. Smith swam last week and finished 19th overall in the 100 meter breaststroke and make the final and finished 7th in the world in the 200 meter breaststroke!
Plummer had a great Olympics for the USA swimming team. He competed in the 100 meter backstroke and won a bronze medal! Plummer then added to his haul be swimming the backstroke in the preliminary heat of the 4x100 medley relay. The USA would go on to win the gold medal later the next day, which means that Plummer gets a gold as well!
Barbora Spotakova--Javelin--Czech Republic
Spotakova competed at Minnesota for one season in 2002, earning All-America honors in the javelin and also competing at the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon. The 2002 Big Ten heptathlon champion, Spotakova decided to give up training for the heptathlon and specialize in the javelin shortly after leaving Minnesota.It seems to have worked as Spotakova won the gold medal at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and added a bronze medal in 2016!
Whalen and the US Women's Basketball team have been crushing the competetion so far these Olympics. The US Women will play Spain for the Gold Medal at 11:30 AM Central on Saturday in a rematch of a game Team USA won by 40 in pool play. Whalen is averaging 6.6 points per game and has played in all seven games for the US Team.
Ben Blankenship--1,500 Meters--USA
Blankenship was a four-time All-American and three-time All-Big Ten honoree for the Gophers, Blankenship won three individual conference crowns while helping the program to five total Big Ten titles. He still holds the school record for the indoor mile (3:57.87), the indoor 3,000 meters (7:52.52) and the outdoor 1,500 meters (3:39.77).
He will be competing in the finals of the Men's 1,500 meter run on Saturday night at 7:00 Central. Blankenship finsihed in fourth place in his semifinal run Thursday to qualify for the finals.
Hassan Mead-5,000 meters--USA
Mead had the most interesting trip to the finals of the 5,000 meters on Saturday night. In Mead's preliminary run, he got tripped up with the gold medalist in the 10,000 meters, Mo Farrah from the UK. Mead was in third place with just a few hundred meters to go, fell and finished in 13th place. Mead initially appealed to be reinstated to the final but was rejected. Then he appealed once more. Once again...rejected. Finally after a third appeal and new video evidence, Mead was reinstated and will run in the finals of the 5,000 meters at 7:30 Central on Saturday night.
"I'm baaaaackkkkk". There are no words can describe the support and love that has been pouring… https://t.co/jywoJWmMRK— Hassan mead (@HassyHass35) August 18, 2016
So Minnesota has two medalists allready, one who is either guaranteed a gold or silver, and two other runners who could win one Saturday night. Not too shabby.