Fifteen Duke Athletes Are Headed to the Tokyo Olympics

Part of the Blue Devils at the Tokyo Olympics Series
Olympic and Duke logos

After a year’s delay, thousands of the world’s greatest athletes will march into Tokyo Olympic Stadium on July 23 to kick off the Summer Olympic Games.  Among them will be more than a dozen Duke alumni and coaches, who will participate in eight sports representing seven nations.

The athletes join a long list of Duke athletic luminaries who have competed in the Olympics. The full list can be found on GoDuke.com.

Duke continues a run of sending women’s soccer alumni to four straight Olympic Games with former star midfielder Quinn, ’17, joining the Canadian team. It’s the second Olympic appearance for Quinn, who helped the Canadians to a bronze medal in 2016.

Duke women’s basketball head coach Kara Lawson will do double duty at the Olympics as the coach of the women’s 3x3 basketball team and as a commentator for NBC Sports. Meanwhile alumna Chelsea Gray, a 2014 Duke graduate, will become the first women's basketball player from Duke to represent the United States in the Olympics. Two alumnae will be part of the Nigerian women's basketball team: Oderah Chidom PPS’17, and senior guard Elizabeth Balogun.

The Duke men’s basketball team will be represented by Jayson Tatum playing for the United States and Jahlil Okafor on the Nigerian team. Tatum is coming off an NBA season where he led the Boston Celtics to the playoffs. He will wear Kobe Bryant's traditional No. 10 on the US team at the Olympics. Okafor, a member of the Duke 2015 national championship team, shined for the Detroit Pistons.  They are the 13th and 14th Duke men’s basketball players to compete in the Olympics. Duke has had a former player compete in the Olympics in each of the last seven Summer Games.

Two Duke runners will key the Canadian women’s track team: Kate Van Buskirk ’11, who took second in the mile for Duke in the 2011 NCAA championship, will run the 5K race, while Madeline Price, ’18, a former All-American at Duke, will run in the 4x400 meter relay.

On the men’s side, alumnus Steven Solomon has been selected to represent the Australian National Team in the men’s 400 meter run. Solomon spent one year at Duke as a graduate student; in that year he set indoor and outdoor university records in the 400 meter run that remain on Duke’s books. His second Olympics representing Australia, Solomon becomes the first Blue Devil track athlete to compete in the Olympics since Curt Clausen in the 50K racewalk at the 2004 Olympic Games.

On the swim team, Duke is represented by alumnus Ashley Twichell, ’11, who will take part in the open water competition. It was her fourth try to make the U.S. Olympic team, and to qualify she had to pass a half-dozen swimmers in the last 800 meters during the recent world championships. At age 30, she becomes the U.S.'s oldest rookie Olympic swimmer since 1908.

Two women’s golf alumnae, Celine Boutier of France and Leona Maguire of Ireland, will play the Olympics course in Japan representing their respective nations. Maguire ’18, will make her second Olympics appearance. She is currently ranked 16th on the LPGA money list. Boutier ’16, a member of Duke’s 2014 national championship team, will make her first appearance in the Olympics for France and has been one of the hottest golfers on the LPGA Tour over the last four months. It will mark the second straight Olympics that Duke women's golf will have two representatives competing.

One of the last Duke alumni to join the US team comes from a sport that isn’t a varsity team at Duke. Jessica Springsteen ’14, will ride her 12-year-old stallion Don Juan van de Donkhoeve on the U.S. Show Jumping Team. Springsteen was one of four top riders selected for the team just this week.

In addition, Duke alumna Danielle Waldman will show jump in the Olympics as part of the Israeli equestrian team.