Cal at the Olympics: From A to Z, Golden Bears Are Representing the USA at Tokyo

Sixteen former Golden Bears will compete for the USA - 11 of them in or on the water.
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From Arioto to Zhang, the 16 Cal athletes competing for the USA at the Tokyo Olympics run the gamut. 

Valerie Arioto will play in the first Olympic softball tournament since 2008 while Lily Zhang hopes to make history as an underdog American in table tennis.

The Golden Bears also will be represented by 30 international athletes in Tokyo. We will profile those athlete on Wednesday.

Cal is particularly adept in or on the water, with six swimmers, two water polo players and three rowers ready to deliver their best for the USA. Among them, backstroker Ryan Murphy, a three-time gold medalist at Rio in 2016, is the headliner.

But two of the country's most visible Olympians are Cal grads -- soccer star Alex Morgan in her third Olympics and golfer Collin Morikawa in his first.

Rower Kara Kohler, headed to her second Olympics, talks in the video above about her goals for Tokyo.

Here are profiles on the 16 U.S. Olympians with Cal roots:

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Valerie Arioto, Softball

Valerie Arioto

Valerie Arioto

At Cal: A native of Pleasanton, Arioto played at Cal from 2008 through ’12, She was Pac-12 Player of the Year and a first-team All-American as a senior first baseman when she batted .365 with a school-record 23 home runs, 60 RBI, and a school-record .912 slugging percentage. She also fashioned a 20-3 pitching record with 1.32 ERA for a team that reached No. 1 in the national poll, won a program-record 56 games and played in the Women’s College World Series.

Beyond Berkeley: The 32-year-old finally gets her Olympic shot as the sport returns to the Games after being dropped from the 2008 and 2012 calendar. She has played in four WBSC World Championships, batting .350 for a gold-medal team in 2018. In 2016, she hit .611 with seven home runs to lead Team USA to gold. Arioto is a four-time World Cup of Softball gold medalist and a three-time Pan American Games gold medalist. She also played professionally in Japan.

Tokyo debut: The top-ranked U.S. women’s team opens vs. No. 9 Italy at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on Wednesday, July 21, noon, Tokyo time (Tuesday, July 20, 8 p.m. Pacific Time)

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Danny Barrett, Rugby 7s

Danny Barrett

Danny Barrett

At Cal: A native of Pacifica, Barrett was a 3-time national champion and All-American during his time at Cal (2008-13), competing in both rugby 7s and XVs. He played with the Collegiate All-Americans during their tour of New Zealand in 2013. And he helped the Bears win the first Olympic-style rugby 7s national title during his final campaign of 2019.

Beyond Berkeley: Now 31 and headed to his second Olympics, Barrett has excelled at every level in the sport. His resume includes: 2015 Rugby World Cup selection, 2016 USA Olympian, 2017 World Rugby 7s Dream Team selection and 2018 Rugby World Cup 7s selection, He scored four tries during the 2016 Rio Games. In 2019, Barrett received the UL Mark of Excellence Award at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Awards for a 60-meter try he scored vs. New Zealand at the Cape Town Sevens. "Danny has made a historically lasting imprint on American and International rugby," Cal coach Jack Clark said. "Importantly, I think he's done it all the right way. He was a great Golden Bear, he got his degree, and then trained his sights on international stardom. He has shown future Cal players how to pursue the dream."

Tokyo debut: The USA opens play in pool C at Tokyo Stadium on Monday, July 26, vs. Kenya at 11:30 a.m., Tokyo time (Sunday, July 25, 7:30 p.m., Pacific Time) and vs. Ireland at 6:30 p.m. Tokyo time (Monday, July 26, 2:30 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Kendall Chase, Rowing

Kendall Chase

Kendall Chase

At Cal: A 2016 Cal grad, Chase was a first-team All-American and the Pac-12 Athlete of the Year as both a junior and a senior. She won silver in the varsity eight and Cal captured the team title at the 2016 NCAA Women's Rowing Championships.

Beyond Berkeley: Chase, 26, made her first senior national team in 2017, when she finished fourth in the fours at the World Championships. She won gold in the eight and finished fourth in the pair at the 2016 World Rowing U23 Championships and captured gold in the four and eight at the 2015 World Rowing U23 Championships. Besides rowing, Chase enjoys extreme jet skiing, reckless tubing, wake boarding/surfing, and river rafting. "This is the goal I've had my whole life, even before I started rowing," Chase said of reaching the Olympics. "As a kid playing sports, I wanted to go to the Olympics.”

Tokyo debut: Competing in the women’s quadruple sculls, Chase will begin her Olympic schedule at the Sea Forest Waterway on Friday, July 23 at 11:30 a.m. (Thursday, July 22, 7:30 p.m., Pacific Time).

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Luca Cupido, Water polo

Luca Cupido

Luca Cupido

At Cal: A native of Santa Margherita Ligure,, Italy, Cupido grew up in southern California and has dual citizenship. He was a four-time All-American attacker (including three times on the first team) at Cal and contributed to the program’s 2016 NCAA championship. As a senior in 2017, when he led the powerhouse Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with 58 goals, Cupido swept both the Peter J. Cutino Award and ACWPC National Player of the Year. He scored 173 career goals for Cal. His older brother, Giacomo Cupido, previously played for the Beas.

Beyond Berkeley: Now 25, Cupido scored four goals for the 2016 Olympic team that finished 10th at Rio. He played in the FINA World Championships in 2015 and ’19 and scored 16 goals for the USA's gold-medal winning Pan American Games team in 2015. He has been a USA national team member since 2014 and currently plays professionally for Camogli in Serie A2 in Italy.

Tokyo debut: The U.S. team opens play at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.in Group A vs. Japan on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m., Tokyo Time (Saturday, July 24, 10 p.m. Pacific Time).

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Johnny Hooper, Water polo

Johnny Hoops

Johnny Hooper

At Cal: The attacker was a four-time All-American (2015-18) with the Golden Bears, helping Cal win the national championship in 2016. The Bears finished third at the nationals in both 2015 and ’17. He scored 245 career goals, second all-time at Cal.

Beyond Berkeley: Led the team with 24 goals at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, which the U.S. won to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Hooper also was the U.S. squad’s top scorer at the 2019 FINA World Championships in South Korea. He plays professionally for Palaio Faliro in the A1 Ethniki League in Greece, where he scored 40 goals across all competitions..

Tokyo debut: The U.S. team opens play at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.in Group A vs. Japan on Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m., Tokyo Time (Saturday, July 24, 10 p.m. Pacific Time).

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Kara Kohler, Rowing

Kara Kohler

Kara Kohler

At Cal: Kohler was a competitive swimmer through her high school years while growing up in the East Bay community of Clayton. But she was encouraged to give rowing a chance at Cal and as a freshman in 2010 was named the Pac-10 Conference Newcomer of the Year. A year later, she was named first-team All-American.

Beyond Berkeley: Kohler won a bronze medal in quadruple sculls at the 2012 London Olympics, then missed out at a return trip to Rio in 2016. As a result, she switched to single sculls and in 2019 captured a bronze medal in the event at the World Championships in Linz, Austria. This past February, she landed on her second Olympic team, beating 2016 silver medalist Gevvie Sone in the finals of the U.S. trials in Sarasota, Florida, to earn the bid. Five U.S. women have won silver medals in the single sculls, but Kohler hopes to become the first American to take home gold from the Olympics in the event. "We have always been proud of Kara," Cal coach Al Acosta said. "She's an amazing person and an inspiration to us all. We are thrilled that she is achieving her dreams and that she will be representing the U.S.A in Tokyo.”

Tokyo debut: Kohler will compete in the single sculls heats at Sea Forest Waterway.on Friday, July 23 at 9:30 a.m., Tokyo Time (Thursday, July 22, 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time).

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Katie McLaughlin, Swimming

Katie McLaughlin

Katie McLaughlin

At Cal: The daughter of a former USC swimmer and Indiana State football player, McLaughlin set a national high-school record in the 100-yard butterfly. She swam at Cal beginning in 2016 but suffered a neck injury in training and did not qualify for the NCAA Championships. By he senior season of 2019, McLaughlin set school records in the 100 and 200 fly while finishing third and fourth, respectively, at the NCAA meet.

Beyond Berkeley: McLaughlin, now 24, made the Olympic trials for the first time at the age of 14 in 2012. She competed at the trials again in 2016 and once more came up short of reaching the Games. By finishing fourth in the 200-meter freestyle at the trials last month, McLaughlin qualified to swim on the 800 free relay. She has twice competed at the FINA World Championships, along with the Pan Pacific Games and the World University Games.

Tokyo debut: Heats in the women’s 800 free relay at the Tokyo Aquatics Center are Wednesday, July 28 at 8:34 p.m. Tokyo Time (Wednesday, July 28, 4:34 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Bryce Mefford, Swimming

Bryce Mefford

Bryce Mefford

At Cal: Part of four Pac-12 championship teams (2018-19-20-21) and the 2019 NCAA winner, Mefford was an 11-time All-American for the Bears, including all four seasons in the 200 backstroke. Younger brother Colby Mefford also swims for the Bears.

Beyond Berkeley: Mefford followed fellow Golden Bear Ryan Murphy into the wall in the 200-meter backstroke final to secure second place and an Olympic bid at the U.S. trials. He was timed at 1:54.79, a personal best by nearly two seconds and the fifth-fastest mark in the world this year. He is a three-time USA national team member.

Tokyo debut: Mefford swims heats in the men’s 200 backstroke at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.on Wednesday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tokyo Time (Sunday, July 28, 3:30 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Alex Morgan, Soccer

Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan

At Cal: Morgan scored 45 goals during her four seasons with the Golden Bears, despite missing much of his senior campaign after being called up by the U.S. senior national team in preparation for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. A four-time All-Pac-10 selection, she helped lead Cal to four straight NCAA tournament appearances. Morgan was named a first-team All-American as a senior.

Beyond Berkeley: One of the most visible and accomplished — and best-paid — women’s players in the world, Morgan is making her third Olympic appearance to go with three trips to the World Cup. She has 179 international caps and has totaled 110 goals and 43 assists. The USA women, top-ranked in the world, will attempt to become the first team to win Olympic gold on the heels of capturing the World Cup title. Now 32, Morgan will play in her first major event since becoming a mother for the first time last year.

Tokyo debut: Morgan and her teammates open against fifth-ranked Sweden — silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics — in a Group G game at Tokyo Stadium on Wednesday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m. Tokyo Time (Wednesday, July 21, 1:30 a.m., Pacific Time).

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Collin Morikawa, Golf

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa

At Cal: Was a four-time Ping All-American while at Cal, earning first-team honors three times. Morikawa won the Pac-12 championship as a senior in 2019, when he also was a finalist for the second time for the Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson national college player of the year awards. In 149 rounds of college golf, he had an impressive 69.78 stroke average.

Beyond Berkeley: Ranked No. 3 in the world and No. 1 in both the FedEx Cup and 2021 prize-money standings at the age of 24, Morikawa already has won five times on the professional tour. Last week he won The Open at Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England. Including his victory at the 2020 PGA Championship, Morikawa is the first player ever to win in his debut at two of golf's majors. He has eight top-10 finishes this season and is considered to have the strongest iron game on the PGA tour. In just 25 months as a professional, Morikawa has earned nearly $14 million in prize money. Morikawa landed a spot on the U.S. team by finishing third in the worldwide Olympic golf rankings.

Tokyo debut: Morikawa plays the first of four rounds of individual stroke play at Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday, July 29 at 7:30 a.m., Tokyo Time (Wednesday, July 28, 3:30 p.m., Pacific Time).

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Ryan Murphy, Swimming

Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

At Cal: The Florida native was untouchable in the backstroke during his four seasons (2014-17) in Berkeley. Murphy won the 100 and 200 back all four years at the NCAA Championships. He was Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year three times. Cal won the NCAA team championship in Murphy’s freshman season of 2014 and was national runner-up the next three years.

Beyond Berkeley: Murphy was one of the swimming stars of the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning gold in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and as a member of the 400 medley relay. The 26-year-old will swim all three events again in Tokyo. He has the No. 2 times in the world in both individual events this year, behind Russian Evgeny Rylov. Murphy is the world-recordholder in the 100 back. His international career began in 2011 at the age of 16 when Murphy won a bronze medal in the 200 back at the World Championships.

Tokyo debut: Murphy begins defense of his 2016 gold in the 100 back at the Tokyo Aquatics Center in heats on Sunday, July 25 at 8:19 p.m., Tokyo Time (Sunday, July 25, 4:19 a.m. Pacific Time). Heats in the 200 back are set for Wednesday, July 28 at 7:25 p.m. Tokyo Time (Wednesday, July 28, 3:25 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Andrew Seliskar, Swimming

Andrew Seliskar (in Cal cap)

Andrew Seliskar (in Cal cap)

At Cal: A 24-year-old from McLean, Virginia, Seliskar came to Cal in the fall of 2016 and had immediate impact on the program. He was named Swimmer of the Meet at the Pac-12 meet as a freshman, winning three individual events and three relays. He repeated that honor in 2018, when he also was the top scorer of any Pac-12 swimmer at the NCAA meet. As a senior, he won the 200 free, the 200 IM, anchored the winning 200 free relay and was part of two other relays that finished in the top three as the Bears from the team title.

Beyond Berkeley: Seliskar secured his first Olympic bid by finishing fourth in the 200-meeter freestyle at the U.S. trials, earning a spot in the 800 free relay in Tokyo. He has enjoyed some of his greatest international success in the 800 free relay, winning gold at the 2018 Pan Pacific Games and bronze at the 2019 World Championships. He and his brother played in a band called Seahorse Yesterday.

Tokyo debut: Heats in the 800 freestyle relay at the Tokyo Aquatics Center will be held on Tuesday, July 27 at 8:37 p.m. Tokyo Time (Tuesday, July 27, 4:37 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Tom Shields, Swimming

Tom Shields

Tom Shields

At Cal: Shields, who turned 30 earlier this month, swam with the Bears from 2010 through ’13. Among his six individual wins at the NCAA Championships, he captured the 100-yard butterfly all four years. Cal won the NCAA team title in 2011 and ’12, and was runner-up the other two seasons.

Beyond Berkeley: Shields first swam at the Olympic trials in 2008 at the age of 17, but didn’t make it to the Games until Rio in 2016 when he won a gold in the 400 medley relay and also swam in the 100 and 200 butterfly. Five years later, at the trials last month, Shields made his second Olympic team by finishing second in the 100 butterfly, He is a nine-time national team member and won a gold medal in the 100 fly at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Tokyo debut: Shields will swim heats of the 100-meter butterfly at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.on Thursday, July 29 at 7:50 p.m., Tokyo Time (Thursday, July 29, 3:50 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Julian Venonsky, Rowing

Julian Venonsky

Julian Venonsky

At Cal: Now 27, Venonsky led Cal to the 2016 IRA national championship as a senior. As a sophomore, he helped the Bears win the second varsity eight title at the nationals. After graduating, he took a brief break from rowing, moving to New York City to work for an international online art auction house. Ultimately, he retuned to the sport.

Beyond Berkeley: Built to be a coxswain at 5-foot-6, 120 pounds, Venonsky was named to the role in the U.S. Olympic men’s eight boat. He was coxswain for the U.S. eight at the 2017, ’18 and ’19 World Championships, helping the team to second, fourth and eighth

Tokyo debut: Heats in the men’s eight at Sea Forest Waterway are set for Sunday, July 25 at 11:30 a.m., Tokyo Time (Saturday, July 24, 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time).

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Abbey Weitzeil, Swimming

Abbey Weitzeil

Abbey Weitzeil

At Cal: Earned Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year honors as a junior in 2019 after setting an American record while winning the 50-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships, where she also contributed to three relay victories and scored points among the top four in seven individual and relay events. A year later, Weitzeil became the first woman to break 21 seconds in the 50-yard free and posted two more wins at the Pac-12 meet before the 2020 NCAAs were wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, she won the 2020 Honda Sports Award as the national swimmer of the year. 

Beyond Berkeley: The 24-year-old qualified for her second Olympics in two individual events, the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, and as a result also likely will swim in one or more relays. She won the 100 free (53.53 seconds) at the trials for the second straight time and was second in the 50 free (24.30). At Rio in 2016, she won a gold medal after swimming in the prelims of the 400 medley relay and a silver in the 400 free relay, where she swam her team’s fastest split in the final. She also placed seventh in the 100 free but did not qualify for the final in the 50 free.

Tokyo debut: Heats in the women’s 100-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre are Wednesday, July 28 ay 7:02 p.m. Tokyo Time (Wednesday, July 28, 3:02 a.m.). Heats in the 50 free are set for Friday, July 30 at 7:24 p.m. Tokyo Time (Friday, July 30, 3:24 a.m. Pacific Time).

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Lily Zhang, Table tennis

Lily Zhang

Lily Zhang

At Cal: Zhang A native of Redwood City, Zhang enrolled at Cal in the fall of 2014, despite growing up on the campus of Stanford, where her father was at the time a mathematics professor. She took a gap year to train for the 2016 Olympics, during which time she trained and lived for part of the year in Austria.

Beyond Berkeley: Zhang, 25, fueled her ambition of becoming the first U.S. player to medal at the Olympics when she reached the semifinals at a 2019 World Cup event, unprecedented for an American. At at age 16, Zhang was the youngest player in the table tennis competition at the 2012 London Olympics, where she was ousted in her opening match. She returned to the Games in 2016 at Rio, advancing to the third round. A five-time U.S. champion, Zhang utilizes a style as a close table attacker. She is ranked 30th in the latest international rankings, where six of the top seven are Chnese players and no other American is among the top-125.

Tokyo debut: The women’s singles preliminary rounds at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium begin on Saturday, July 24 at 9 a.m. Tokyo Time (Friday, July 23, 5 p.m.. Pacific Time).

Cover photo collage of Alex Morgan, Ryan Murphy and Collin Morikawa

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo