Six former Illini athletes and one current head coach will head to London to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Various alums will be representing USA, Great Britain, Canada and Jamaica in the Olympics, competing in basketball, soccer and track & field.
Robert Archibald (Great Britain) and 2008 gold medalist Deron Williams (USA) might get to face each other on the basketball court. Four-time NCAA Champion and 2012 NCAA 100m and 110m hurdles champion Andrew Riley (Jamaica) leads a trio of former Illini track and field stars at the 2012 Games, which also includes hurdler Nikkita Holder (Canada) and discus thrower Gia Lewis-Smallwood (USA). Former soccer star Emily Zurrer (Canada), who is appearing in her second Olympic games, rounds out the Illini athlete contingent in London.
In addition to the six athletes competing, current Illinois women’s track and field head coach and former Olympic medalist Tonja Buford-Bailey is also in London as an assistant coach for USA women’s track and field. She will work primarily with Team USA’s sprinters and hurdles.
Take a look at the schedule below to watch all of the Orange & Blue athletes in action!
Great Britain, Men’s Basketball
Robert Archibald (1999-2002), a native of Scotland, is making his first Olympic appearance. At Illinois, Archibald was a third-team All-Big Ten pick as a senior in 2002, averaging 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while leading the Big Ten in field goal shooting at 65.9 percent. Archibald helped Illinois win back-to-back Big Ten titles and advance to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2001 and Sweet 16 in 2002. He plans to retire after a successful 10-year pro career.
Great Britain Men’s Basketball Schedule
Group B: 7/29 vs. Russia, 7/31 vs. Brazil, 8/2 vs. Spain, 8/4 vs. Australia, 8/6 vs. China
Gold/Bronze Medal Games: 8/12
Canada, Women’s Track & Field (100m hurdles)
Personal Best: 12.80 (2012)
2012 Best (world rank): 12.80 (29th)
Canadian hurdler Nikkita Holder (2007-2009) will be making her first Olympic appearance this year. Holder finished third at the Canadian Trials with a career-best time of 12.80 to advance to London. Holder represented Canada in the 100m hurdles at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. At Illinois, Holder competed in the 100m hurdles, 100m and 60m hurdles, placing a career-best fourth in the 100m hurdles at the 2007 Big Ten Championships.
Olympic 100m Hurdles Schedule
Aug. 6, 10:05 am BST/4:05 CDT: Round 1
Aug. 7, 7:15 pm BST/1:15 CDT: Semifinals
Aug. 7, 9 pm BST/3 CDT: Final
USA, Women’s Track & Field (discus)
Personal Best: 63.97 m/209-10 (2012)
2012 Best (world rank): 63.97 m/209-10 (15th)
Gia Lewis-Smallwood (1998-2001) will be competing in her first Olympic Games for the United States in the discus throw. Lewis-Smallwood represented Team USA at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, her first international experience after 11 years competing on the national level. A native of Champaign, Ill., Lewis-Smallwood was a All-American in the discus for the Fighting Illini in 2001, placing fifth at the NCAA Championships.
Olympic Discus Schedule
Aug. 3, 7:10 pm BST/1:10 CDT: Qualifying
Aug. 4, 7:30 pm BST/1:30 CDT: Final
Jamaica, Men’s Track & Field (110m hurdles)
Personal Best: 13.19 (2012)
2012 Best (world rank): 13.19 (14th)
Recent Illini graduate Andrew Riley (2009-12) will representing his home country of Jamaica at the Olympics. Riley finished second in a loaded field at the Jamaican Trials with a career best time of 13.19 to earn his trip to London. In June, Riley became the first male NCAA athlete ever to win both the 100m dash and 110m hurdles NCAA titles in the same year. He finished his Illinois career as a four-time NCAA champion, 12-time All-American and 12-time Big Ten Champion.
Olympic 110m Hurdles Schedule
Aug. 7, 10:10 am BST/4:10 CDT: Round 1
Aug. 8, 7:15 pm BST/1:15 CDT: Semifinals
Aug. 8, 9:15 pm BST/3:15 CDT: Final
USA, Men’s Basketball
Deron Williams (2003-05) will go for his second Olympic Gold medal with the United States men’s basketball team in London. Williams was a part of Team USA’s “Redeem Team” that won gold in Beijing in 2008. After being the highest Illinois player drafted at No. 3 overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, Williams has had a brilliant professional career. The seven-year NBA veteran and current Brooklyn Net averaged 21.0 points (11th in NBA) and 8.7 assists (fifth in NBA) last season and has participated in the last three NBA All-Star Games. .
USA Men’s Basketball Schedule
Group A: 7/29 vs. France, 7/31 vs. Tunisia, 8/2 vs. Nigeria, 8/4 vs. Lithuania, 8/6 vs. Argentina
Gold/Bronze Medal Games: 8/12
Canada, Women’s Soccer
London 2012 will be the second Olympic appearance for Emily Zurrer (2005-08), as she also represented Canada in 2008 in Beijing, starting every game in the defensive backfield. Zurrer is in her fourth season on the Canadian national team and is one of the key figures on the Canadian defense. Zurrer also played at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. At Illinois, Zurrer was a three-time All-American and the 2006 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Canada Women’s Soccer Schedule
Group F: 7/25 vs. Japan, 7/28 vs. South Africa, 7/31 vs. Sweden
Gold/Bronze Medal Games: 8/9