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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Seven Wildcats set to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics

Sydney Richardson
Arizona track and field athlete Pau Tonneson long jumps during the Jim Click Shootout on April 9, 2015 at Roy P. Drachman Stadium. Tonneson broke the Arizona school record for the heptathlon at the University of Washington Invitational on Jan 30.

August is fast approaching and with it comes the beginning of the controversial 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

There are seven Arizona Wildcats of six different nationalities heading to Rio, and regardless of which country these athletes represent, their Arizona colors will be shed during the three weeks spent at the games.

The games will take place from August 5-21.

Rafael Quintero, Diver: Puerto Rico

Rafael Quintero originally hails from Puerto Rico, but spent his high school years at one of the most reputable academic schools in the country — University High School — and made an immediate splash upon arrival at Arizona.

In his first season with the Wildcats, Quintero won the Pac-12 Conference Championship on the platform and maintained his success earning three All-America honors in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Quintero is no stranger to the big stage, but a stage like Rio is what keeps athletes up at night, so his production for the Puerto Rican team should be something folks in the Old Pueblo should look forward to watching.

Michael Meyer, Swimmer, 400-meter individual medley: South Africa

The three-time All-American is arguably Arizona’s most talented swimmer considering Meyer posted the fastest time in the 200-meter individual medley (1:44.74), 400-meter individual medley (3:42.79) and the 100-meter back stroke (47.90).

The last time South Africa was in the Olympic games, two swimmers captured the gold medal and earned one silver medal, so there is quite a bit of pressure on Meyer to show out in Rio.

Tjasa Oder, Swimmer, 800-meter freestyle: Slovenia

Tjasa Oder doesn’t have success and experience at just the collegiate level, the two-time second-team All-Pac-12 Academic honoree participated in the 2012 Olympics in London in the 800-meter freestyle, but placed 25th in the heats, failing to qualify.

Despite being unable to take care of business and breaking through in 2012, Oder returned to London and received a bronze medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2016 European Championships. This year she should return to the Olympics with vengeance and a chip on her shoulder to reach newer heights in her swimming career.

Brad Tandy, Swimmer, 50-meter freestyle: South Africa

If swimming were track, Tandy is a true sprinter and an athlete with potential heading into Rio. Tandy stands 6-foot-3 — so his length is already a factor — and his résumé at Arizona speaks for itself when taking a gander at his accomplishments.

Tandy is a four-time All-American who also won an NCAA title in 2014 in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 18.95 seconds and returned to glory in the conference the following season winning the Pac-12 title with another time of 18.95. Repeating times won’t help his cause in Rio, but Tandy is a seasoned yet young swimmer that can add some firepower to a South African lineup that is looking to dethrone Michael Phelps.

Kevin Cordes, Swimmer, 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke: United States

Whenever the conversation of legendary swimmers or the greatest of all-time at Arizona take center stage, Cordes’ name will always be at the top of the list. Cordes will represent the stars and stripes in Rio and will be a likely candidate to earn a medal.

Cordes is an NCAA six-time individual champion and won the 100-meter breaststroke championship every season. Also named Swimmer of the Year in 2013 and 2014, Cordes enters the games with an ego boosting performance in the trials placing first-place in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Pau Tonnesen, Decathlon: Spain

The 2015 Pac-12 Decathlon champion will take his talents to the biggest stage for an athlete. Tonnesen was also the 2015 Pac-12 field athlete of the year and set a school record for points scored in a decathlon with 8,247 points in the 2015 NCAA Championships.

Tonnesen is new to the international competition with the only experience outside of intercollegiate activity coming from the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China.

Sage Watson, 400-meter hurdles: Canada

Watson is the new girl on the block and isn’t a household name to the Arizona brand just yet, but that’s probably because she’s coming into a totally new program. Watson hurdled for Florida State University from 2012-2015 and evolved into a four-time All-American with an ACC title in 2014 in the 400-meter hurdles.

Watson is young and still has room to grow as an Olympic athlete, but if she plays her cards right, maybe one day “Oh, Canada” will echo in her name.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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