Vols competing in Tokyo games
A total of 16 current and former Tennessee student-athletes are competing at the Olympics in Tokyo.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Olympics Opening Ceremony took place on Friday in Tokyo, Japan and some Vols are already bringing home some hardware.
18 past, present, and future Vols are competing in the Tokyo Olympics on behalf of 12 countries in seven sports with eight competing in swimming.
Swimmer Erica Brown earned a bronze medal swimming in the 4x100 freestyle relay for Team USA on Saturday. She swam for UT from 2017 to 2020. Brown led the Lady Vols to their first-ever SEC Championship title in 2020. She owns the world record in the 4x100 medley relay and holds the American record in the 100 butterfly. She competed in the 100-meter freestyle but did not medal.
Mona McSharry is competing in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke for Team Ireland. She is a current swimmer for UT and started swimming for the Vols in 2021. McSharry won the 2021 SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year and capped her freshman season by medaling at both the SEC and NCAA Championships and earned six All-America honors. She raced in the semifinal round for the 100 meter breaststroke on Monday and in the first heat of the 200 meter breaststroke on Wednesday but did not medal in either. McSharry is the fifth UT swimmer to represent Ireland at the Olympics.
Cherelle Thompson competed in the 50 meter freestyle for Trinidad & Tobago but did not advance. She swam for UT from 2013 to 2015. She helped the Lady Vols to top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships during her three seasons on Rocky Top, including third-place finish in 2013.
Kira Toussaint competed in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay for the Netherlands, finishing fourth. She swam for UT from 2016 to 2017. Toussaint earned eight All-America accolades and won three SEC gold medals during her two seasons in Knoxville. She competed in the 100 meter backstroke semifinal on Monday and placed seventh.
Ellen Walshe competed in the 100 meter butterfly on Saturday and finished first in heat two. Walshe is an incoming freshman at UT and broke the Irish national record with a time of 2:12.02 in the event to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She competed in the 200 meter individual medley on Monday and finished eighth.
Tessa Cieplucha competed in the 400 meter individual medley for Team Canada on Saturday, finishing sixth in heat two. Cieplucha swam for the Vols from 2017 to 2020. She earned eight All-America honors and won two SEC gold medals during her time on Rocky Top.
Lyubomir Epitropov competed in the 100 meter breaststroke for Bulgaria on Saturday, finishing fourth in heat three. He currently swims for UT. Epitropov won gold in the 200 breaststroke at the 2021 SEC Championships, securing his first SEC title. He swam in the 200 meter breaststroke on Tuesday and finished fifth.
Michael Houlie also competed in the 100 meter breaststroke on Saturday representing South Africa and finished eighth in heat four. He currently swims for UT and is the school-record holder in the 100 breaststroke at 51.26.
Monica Abbott pitched for Team USA in the fifth inning of the Gold Medal Softball Game, winning the silver medal. and is one of the most decorated players in the history of college softball. Abbott played for UT from 2004 to 2007. She also became the first pitcher in NCAA Division I history to record 500 strikeouts in four different seasons. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics mark Abbott’s second time competing in the games after winning a silver medal with the U.S. National Team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Kelsey Robinson is competing for Team USA in volleyball. She played for UT form 2010 to 2012. In 2016, Robinson and Team USA brought home a bronze medal from the Rio Olympics. As a Lady Vol, Robinson was a two-time AVCA All-American and was named the SEC Player of the Year in 2011. Team USA beat Argentina 3 to 0 in the preliminary rounds on Sunday. Team USA will play Italy in the next round on Monday.
Tennys Sandgren competed in singles tennis on July 24, falling to Spain and doubles tennis on Sunday winning against Australia. He played for UT from 2010 to 2011. During the Gallatin, Tennessee, native’s time with the Vols, he compiled a record 60-12 in singles and a 38-11 slate in doubles.
Hannah Wilkinson is competing on the New Zealand soccer team. She played for UT from 2012 to 2016. In her five years on Rocky Top, Wilkinson amassed 33 goals and 19 assists. She had one assist in New Zealand’s loss against Team USA and one shot on goal from their loss to Sweden.
Darryl Sullivan is competed in the men’s high jump for Team USA on Friday and finished 15th in his group. Sullivan competed for UT from 2017 to 2021. The all-time school record holder in the event, Sullivan is the first Tennessee track & field athlete to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump.
Joella Lloyd is competing in the 100 meter dash for Antigua and Barbuda. She is a current member of UT’s track and field team. Lloyd made her mark in the Tennessee record book during the 2021 campaign, tying the all-time program standard in the indoor 60-meter dash at 7.15 seconds and breaking the Lady Vol freshman record in the 100-meter dash at 11.19 seconds. Both performances went down as national records for Antigua and Barbuda. Lloyd finished seventh in her heat.
Carey McLeod is competing for Jamaica and is the only athlete in the world to qualify for both the long jump and the triple jump in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. McLeod is currently on UT’s track and field team. The 2020 Indoor SEC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year owns the school record in both categories with marks of 8.26 meters in the long jump and 17.17 meters in the triple jump. The long jump qualification starts on Saturday and the triple jump qualification starts on Tuesday Aug. 3.
Stamatia Scarvelis is competing for Greece in the hammer. Scarvelis was on UT’s track and field team from 2017 to 2019. The 2019 SEC Outdoor Commissioner’s Trophy winner owns the program record in the hammer with a distance of 71.33 meters and won the SEC title in the event in 2018 and 2019. The women’s hammer throw qualification is on Sunday, August 1.
Former Lady Vol Kara Lawson is the head coach for 3x3 basketball for Team USA and Rhian Wilkinson is an assistant coach for Great Britain’s soccer team. Lawson was a WNBA champion in 2005 and a WNBA All-Star in 2007 with Sacramento, and she went on to earn the 2009 and 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Awards and the 2013 Dawn Staley Community Assist Award. Wilkinson won a bronze medal in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. USA Basketball moves on to play France on Monday and Great Britain fell to Australia in the women’s quarter-final on July 30.
Tennessee athletes have won 39 gold medals before going into the Tokyo games—more top finishes than 100 participating countries, including Greece, Brazil, Jamaica, Argentina, and Mexico.
“UT has an extraordinarily impressive Olympic history,” said Associate Athletics Director for Communications Tom Satkowiak. “Including this summer’s competitors, close to 120 Vols and Lady Vols have now represented the Big Orange and their respective home countries on the worldwide Olympic stage.”
Others like McSharry and Team USA member Darryl Sullivan—the first athlete from Tennessee to qualify in the high jump—are doing so for the first time.
“I’ve grown so much in the past five years I’ve been at Tennessee,” said Sullivan, who finished second at US Olympic Team Trials to qualify for the Games. “There are a lot of guys who have put on the uniform, and I’ve followed in their footsteps. I’m etched in history forever.”
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