The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was unlike any other Olympic Games in history, taking place a full year past the originally scheduled date and with almost no live spectators. Despite the circumstances, the Olympics went off without a hitch. The torch was lit on July 23, and over the next sixteen days, the world’s best athletes came together and competed on the brightest international stage.
The University of Virginia was well represented at the Olympics as several current, former and future Wahoos participated in a number of events and represented many countries. In total, UVA sent 18 Olympians to six sports and represented seven different countries. Nine of these Olympian Riders won medals.
Swimming & Diving
Virginia was represented by four athletes on the US team’s swimming and diving roster, as well as head coach Todd DeSorbo. These four athletes won medals in Tokyo. Paige Madden, who graduated from UVA in May, won a silver medal in the US 4x200m freestyle relay team, alongside Allison Schmitt, Katie McLaughlin and Katie Ledecky.
New Year’s Emma Weyant won silver in the 400m individual medley, giving AVU fans an exciting glimpse into things to come for Weyant’s college career in Charlottesville.
In the 200m individual medley, UVA held two of three podium positions, with sophomore Alex Walsh taking silver and rising junior Kate Douglass taking bronze.
Seven former Cavaliers competed in Tokyo in rowing events representing four different countries. The United States team was represented by Kristine O’Brien (’13) and Meghan O’Leary (’07), who did not row at Virginia but played in the volleyball and softball teams of the ‘UVA. Christine Roper (’11), Susanne Grainger (’13) and Morgan Rosts (’18) rowed for Team Canada. Grainger and Roper won gold for Canada in the women’s rowing event.
Inge Janssen (’10) competed in the torque quad event for the Netherlands, while Hannah Osborne, who attended UVA until 2014, took silver with the team from New Zealand scull rowing.
Becky Sauerbrunn (’07) and Emily Sonnett (’16) played for the Team USA women’s soccer team which won a bronze medal in Tokyo. Sauerbrunn won gold with the United States team in 2012 and won two FIFA World Cups in 2015 and 2019. Sonnett was also part of the 2019 World Cup squad and was a substitute at the Games 2016 Olympics.
Joe Bell, a UVA men’s football star from 2017 to 2019, played for New Zealand, which advanced to the men’s football group quarter-finals in Tokyo.
While no former Cavalier basketball player was represented on the U.S. team, two former Hoos have adapted to Olympic basketball rosters from other countries. Mike Tobey, a UVA graduate in 2016, was a Slovenia star at the Olympics, displaying excellent chemistry with NBA superstar Luka Doncic and averaging 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Doncic and Tobey led Slovenia to a 4-0 start at the Olympics and advanced to the support semifinals before back-to-back losses to France and then Australia in the third-place match deprived Tobey of ‘a medal.
Francisco Caffaro, a red shirt junior, played for Argentina’s Olympic men’s basketball team which advanced to the quarter-finals before losing to Australia.
Former UVA women’s basketball star Dawn Staley was the head coach of the US women’s basketball team that won gold in Tokyo. Staley has won three gold medals as a player and has also served as an assistant coach on two gold medal winning teams.
Filip Mihaljevic (’17) competed in his second Olympics representing Croatia in the shot put. Michaela Meyer, an AVU graduate student who won an NCAA 800m individual championship in 2021, was a substitute for the US team in the 800m.
UVA athletes typically give Wahoo fans something to celebrate with their accomplishments at college sporting events, but several Cavaliers have shown that they can perform internationally at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics as well.