As we approach the end of July, we are already seeing the winding down of summer activities, with stores already inundated with school supplies and fall clothes. Don’t be sad, though! The end of summer just means the beginning of the greatest time of year in the sports world. As we gear up here at Sprots Takes for another football season, we are also preparing ourselves for what appears to be a crazy 2016 Olympic Games. While we are fully Team USA for all events, here are five local athletes to especially root on in Rio.
Erik Kynard (high jump): A graduate of Kansas State, Erik Kynard is set to compete in his second Olympic games. In his 2012 debut in London, Kynard won the silver medal in men’s high jump. The 25-year-old is the highest ranked high jumper in the United States and ranks fourth worldwide. Not only is Kynard a world class athlete, he is also a stud when it comes to fashion. Known for his stars and stripes tube socks at the 2012 Olympics, Kynard’s more recent outfits include this headline-making Jordan Brand outfit:
Kynard continues to train in Manhattan, KS under the guidance of K-State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto. Rovelto will also be making his way to Rio, serving as an assistant coach for the USA.
Becky Sauerbrunn (soccer): Missouri will be well-represented in the Rio Olympics, led by Missouri native soccer star Becky Sauerbrunn. Born in St. Louis, Sauerbrunn is currently captain of FC Kansas City. Sauerbrunn has found much success in Kansas City, receiving “Defender of the Year” award from the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) every year since the birth of the award. On the national scene, Becky has been named co-captain of the 2016 Olympic team, alongside Carli Lloyd.
Considered by many as the best defender in the world, Sauerbrunn will be competing in her second Olympic games. In addition to the Olympics, Sauerbrunn has plenty of experience playing in big games-Becky competed in every minute of all seven games during the 2015 World Cup.
Mason Finley (discus): Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Finley made his way to the University of Kansas for three years before transferring to the University of Wyoming. While at KU, he became a four-time Big 12 champion in shot put and discus. After graduating from Wyoming, Finley came back to Lawrence to train under his former coach Andy Kokhanovsky. This will be the first Olympic games for Finley; however, discus is not his only talent. Finley is also passionate about theater and often helps backstage at local community theaters.
(Mason currently has a GoFundMe to get his mother and sisters to Rio: https://www.gofundme.com/2dr376c)
Andrea Geubelle (triple jump): After not being able to send a full 3-woman team to the Olympics since 1996, the USA is finally bringing a stacked triple jump lineup. The US can thank KU alumna, Andrea Geubelle for being part of that group. Due to the few number of women who could reach the Olympic requirement, the US has been underrepresented in women’s triple jump, sending only one woman to London in 2012. The 3-time NCAA champion, who has recently overcome a torn patellar tendon injury, will be joining Keturah Orji and Christina Epps in Brazil for her first Olympics. The US believes 2016 will be a historic Olympic game for women’s triple jump.
J’Den Cox (wrestling): Missouri native and Mizzou student J’Den Cox has had a unique journey to the Rio games. After winning his second NCAA title, Cox gained a spot in the Olympic trials. However, Cox was not automatically qualified for the Olympics because the USA did not place high enough in previous events. Cox subsequently traveled to Mongolia to compete in the World Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament, where he swept all five games and won the tournament outright, securing his spot in Brazil. The Mizzou junior will be competing in the 86-kilogram freestyle wrestling event and is the second Mizzou wrestler to attend the Olympics.
As always, keep tuned to Sprots Takes as we follow Team USA and these local athletes throughout the Olympics.
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