After only four days since the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, athletes representing the University of Arizona have shined bright. The Wildcats represented seven countries, competed in six separate sports, played in three finals and won two medals.
Here are the athletes and what they have accomplished so far.
Felicity Passon ('22): Swimmer for Team Seychelles
Before the Olympic games even began, Passon had the honor of being the flag bearer for her home country of Seychelles during the opening ceremonies. After that, Passon got to work preparing for the Women’s 100m Backstroke on Sunday, July 25. Unfortunately, Passon finished with a time of 1:04.66, which was not enough to qualify for the semifinals. Passon would finish No. 38 overall in the field. Passon will have one more chance at Olympic gold when she competes in the Women’s 200m Backstroke on Thursday, July 29 at 4:08 a.m. MST.
Giulia Koutsoyanopulos ('24): First baseman for Team Italy
Koutsoyanopulos participated in her first Olympic Games, but it was not the smoothest outing for her or Team Italy. The Italians finished 0-5 at the Olympics, the only softball team without a win. Koutsoyanopulos played in every game but only batted .100. While the games may be over for Koutsoyanopulos, there are plenty of events left with Italian athletes and Wildcats for her to cheer on.
Daniel Namir ('22): Swimmer for Team Israel
Namir and the Israelis competed in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay, hoping to qualify for the medal round. They finished with a time of 7:08.65, good enough for No. 10 in the field and less than one second from being able to compete for a medal.
Nico Mannion ('20): Basketball player for Team Italy
Mannion was in the starting lineup for Team Italy and had the debut that first-time Olympians dream of. Mannion played 23 minutes and had 10 points and seven rebounds off 40% shooting from the field, leading Italy past Germany 92-82. Italy will face Greece and Australia on Wednesday, July 28 at 1:20 a.m. MST.
Josh Green ('20): Basketball player for Team Australia
Even though Green only played five minutes in his first Olympic basketball game, he was still able to contribute two rebounds. Australia won the game against Nigeria 84-67. Australia will play Mannion and Italy on Wednesday, July 28 at 1:20 a.m. MST.
Shaina Pellington ('22): Basketball player for Team Canada
Pellington struggled to find her rhythm in Canada’s first game against Serbia, scoring only two points along with a rebound and an assist. Canada lost a close game to Serbia 72-68. Canada will face the Republic of Korea on Thursday, July 29 at 6 p.m. MST.
Ify Ibekwe ('11): Basketball player for Team Nigeria
Ibekwe and the Nigerians opened Olympic play against the gold medal favorite USA. Ibekwe had a solid game, finishing with a final line of nine points, three rebounds and two assists. Nigeria would lose to USA 81-72. Nigeria will play France on Friday, July 30 at 1:20 a.m. MST.
Brett Thompson (‘10): Rugby player for Team USA
Thompson and the Americans started well, including two wins against Kenya (19-14) and Ireland (19-17). After losing to medal favorite South Africa 12-17, USA drew another medal favorite, Great Britain, in the opening round of the quarterfinals. USA ultimately lost the match 26-21 and was eliminated from medal contention. USA will face Canada for classification on Tuesday, July 27 at 6 p.m. MST.
Alex Obert (‘24): Water Polo player for Team USA
Looking to win USA’s first-ever gold medal in Water Polo, Obert and the Americans have put themselves in a good position to do that so far. USA won their first match against Japan 15-13 and crushed South Africa 20-3. Obert has scored one goal so far at the Olympics. USA will face Italy on Wednesday, July 28 at 10 p.m. MST.
Danielle O'Toole ('17) and Taylor McQuillin ('19): Pitchers for Team Mexico
After starting the tournament 0-3, the Mexicans clawed their way back to win their final two games and clinch a spot in the bronze medal game against Canada. O’Toole entered the circle in hopes of winning Mexico a bronze medal. It was not a good start for O’Toole as she allowed two runs early on to put Mexico in an early 2-0 hole. Mexico did not give up and scored two runs over the next three innings to tie the game 2-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
O’Toole got into trouble again in the bottom of the fifth inning by putting runners in scoring position with one out. Canada capitalized and hit a sac fly to score the deciding run and won the game 3-2, dashing O’Toole and McQuillin’s hopes at winning a medal.
Dejah Mulipola ('21): Catcher for Team USA
One Wildcat that was guaranteed a medal was Mulipola and Team USA. The Americans were facing Japan in the softball gold medal game. In an article published by the Daily Wildcat that previewed the game, there were four elements that would determine who walked away with the gold. They were pitching, USA’s center fielder Haylie McCleney staying hot, pushing the game into extras if needed and scoring the first run. After everything went right for USA the entire tournament, everything went wrong in the final game.
USA’s ace pitcher Catherine Osterman got the start after dominating every team she faced in the tournament. Osterman looked shaky from the beginning and never had control of the circle. She was done after only two innings, allowing two hits and one walk with no strikeouts. Osterman had a tournament-low in innings pitched and strikeouts while giving up the most hits in all her outings.
Head coach Ken Eriksen decided to go with pitcher Ally Carda, which was odd since the last time she faced Japan in pool play she struggled with her control. It was all downhill from there as Carda gave up two runs on three hits with only two strikeouts.
USA needed offense if they were to stay in the game, including from hot hitter McCleney. Japan’s starting pitcher Yukiko Ueno shut down the USA hitters, including McCleney who went 0-3. In the end USA lost the game 2-0, with Mulipola not making an appearance in the game.
Nevertheless, Mulipola will leave the Olympics as an Olympic silver medalist.
Delaney Schnell (’22): Diver for Team USA
The story of UA athletes in the Olympics so far must go to redshirt junior Delaney Schnell. Schnell and her partner Jessica Parratto were competing in the Women’s Synchronized 10m Platform dive. USA was not considered medal favorites, coming into the medal round as the sixth seed.
Schnell and Parratto scored a 45.00 after their first dive, which put them in seventh place out of eight teams. Needing to gain ground, Schnell and Parratto attempted the same dive to try and perfect it. The result worked out, and the American pair scored a 46.80, moving them up into sixth place.
Round three is where Schnell and Parratto began to separate themselves from the field, scoring a 70.20, the third-highest score in that round. After a few of the other teams made some synchronization errors and big splashes, USA propelled into second place. It only got better in the fourth round when USA scored 70.08, with more teams once again falling apart with countless errors.
Heading into the final round, Schnell and Parratto attempted their final dive with the highest degree of difficulty and nailed it with a score of 78.72, the second-highest diving score of the round. It was too great a deficit for the other countries to catch up, and after Malaysia could not post a high enough score, USA was guaranteed a medal. Then Germany did not score high enough, and USA was guaranteed either gold or silver. The last group was the Chinese and they put up a high enough score to edge USA, but either way, history was made.
Schnell and Parratto became the first USA women’s medalists in the 10m synchronized diving platform. Before the Olympic games began, Schnell made it very clear in her UA Olympic press conference what she was coming to Tokyo to do.
“I am really excited about competing,” Schnell said in a past interview. “That is what we are there for, to bring back some hardware. I have a really good chance at doing that, and I am looking forward to stepping on the platform for the first time.”
Schnell will continue her Olympic journey and compete for a chance at a second medal in the Women’s individual 10m Platform dive on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 11 p.m. MST.
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