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Five Northwestern Athletes to Compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics

The Wildcats are well represented in this year's Summer Olympics, with a total of five Northwestern athletes competing in Tokyo.
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Chances are when you tune into this year's Summer Olympics over the course of the next couple of weeks, you will be watching an athlete from Northwestern compete. After a year long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes from across the globe are finally gathering in Tokyo, Japan to represent their respected countries in pursuit for gold. There are four former Northwestern student-athletes and one current Wildcat who are set to participate in this year's games.

Federico Burdisso ('23) - SWIMMING - ITALY

Federico Burdisso is the only current Northwestern student-athlete set to participate in this year's games. Burdisso will be representing his home country of Italy (a Pavia native) in the pool this summer. As a freshman on Northwestern men's swimming team in 2019-20, Burdisso set school records in the 200 fly and 200 free. Not only did Burdisso claim Wildcat records, he is also the Italian record holder for the 200 fly, with a time of 1:51.98. Burdisso will be competing in the Men's 200-Meter Butterfly, with his heat scheduled for July 26th, 5 a.m. CT.

UPDATE: After a great preliminary swim for Burdisso (1:55.14), the Northwestern Wildcat qualified for the Men's 200-Meter Butterfly final after placing fourth in the semi-final's with a time of 1:55.11. Burdisso will race tonight in the Men's 200-Meter Butterfly final against seven others, for a chance at Olympic glory. Burdisso will be in lane six.

Federico Burdisso finished third in the Men's 200-Meter Butterfly final, giving him his first Olympic medal. Burdisso earned the bronze medal with a time of 1:54.45.

However, Burdisso didn't stop there. He claimed another bronze medal in the Men's 4 x 100-Meter Medley Relay Final as part of Team Italy, with a time of 3:29.17, placing behind USA (gold) and France (silver).

Andrea Filler ('15, '16) - SOFTBALL - ITALY

Andrea Filler was a former star for the Wildcats on the diamond from 2014-16. Filler's name is all over Northwestern's softball record book as she ranks third in doubles (40), fourth in slugging (.693), sixth in batting average (.351), seventh in RBI's (159) and ninth in home runs (34). Filler is no stranger when it comes to playing for the Italians, as she played professionally in Italy in 2017. Filler currently serves as the director of operations for Northwestern's field hockey and softball programs. Look for Fuller to be playing second base for Team Italy.

UPDATE: Italy lost to USA 2-0 in the their first game of the Opening Round (July 21st) with Fuller accounting for Italy's only hit of the game. Italy then lost their second game of the Opening Round to Australia, 1-0 (July 22nd). Fuller and Italy lost to Japan in their third Opening Round game, 5-0 (July 24th), with Fuller collecting another base hit. Italy lost to Mexico in their fourth Opening Round game, 5-0 (July 25th). Italy and Filler finished their disappointing showing, losing to Canada 8-1 in their final Opening Round game (July 26th), going 0-5 in the Olympic Games. Filler finished tied for first in team hits with three.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah ('19) - BASKETBALL - NIGERIA

Chances are Wildcat fans still have very fond and fresh memories of Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah dominating the Big Ten and snatching every rebound in sight. Graduating in 2019, Kunaiyi-Akpanah ended her Northwestern career as a first team All-Big Ten performer and became only the second player in Northwestern women's basketball history to collect over 1,000 career rebounds. Kunaiyi-Akpanah is no stranger to international play as she has played professionally in Italy and Belgium. Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria will have their hands full as they open group play vs. the United States on Monday, July 26th, at 11:40 p.m. CT.

UPDATEKunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria came up short against Team USA, losing 81-72. Kunaiyi-Akpanah went 1/5 from the field, finishing with two points and a team high nine rebounds (six offensive). Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria are back in action this Friday, July 30th, against France.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria fell to France 87-62, as Kunaiyi-Akpanah recorded four rebounds in twelve minutes of action. Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria are back against the home country, Japan, on Monday, August 2nd.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah and Nigeria fell to Japan 102-83, ending their time in Tokyo, going 0-3. Kunaiyi-Akpanah averaged .7 points and 4.3 rebounds in three games.

Krystal Lara ('20) - SWIMMING - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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Krystal Lara swam for the Wildcats from 2016-20, competing in the back, fly and free events during her four year career. During her senior year, Lara qualified for her first NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200. Lara knows what it feels like to don a medal around her neck as she won a bronze and silver medal in the 100 and 200 backstroke in the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games. She broke five national records at the 2018 Dominican Republic Swimming Nationals (100 free, 50 back, 100 back, 200 back and 100 fly). Lara will look to capture the magic she found in 2018 and will be competing in the 100 and 200 backstrokes this summer. Lara's heat for the 100-Meter backstroke is scheduled for July 25th at 5 a.m. CT and her 200-Meter backstroke is scheduled for July 29th at 5 a.m. CT. 

UPDATE: Lara finished fourth in her heat in the 100-Meter backstroke event, with a time of 1:03.07. Unfortunately it was not enough to qualify for the semifinals.

Lara finished eighth in her heat in the 200-Meter backstroke event, with a time of 2:18.63, ending her time in Tokyo.

Jordan Wilimovsky ('17) - SWIMMING - UNITED STATES

Jordan Wilimovsky won't be intimidated by the bright lights and big stage that comes with competing against the best athletes in the world. Back in 2016, Wilimovsky made history at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro when he became the first American swimmer to compete in both pool and open water events. Wilimovsky placed fourth in the the 1,500-meter swim and fifth in the 10K open water swim, just barely missing out on a podium finish. Wilimovsky will be looking to avenge his 2016 performance by standing on the podium with a medal draped around his neck this time around. Wilimovsky was a four-time All-American during his time in the pool at Northwestern, and holds records in the 500 free, 1,000 free and 1,650 free. Wilimovsky's open water 10k will take place on August 4th at 4:30 p.m. CT.

UPDATE: Wilimovsky finished tenth in the Men's 10k, with a time of 1:51:40.2. That was three minutes and six and a half seconds behind the gold medal winner, Florian Wellbrock (1:48:33.7), from Germany. Hungary's Kristof Rasovszky claimed silver (1:48:59.0), while Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri (1:49:01.1) took home the bronze.

Jordan Wilimovsky

Jordan Wilimovsky

This year's Olympic Games will be unlike anything we have ever seen before. With the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, Tokyo unfortunately had to declare a state of emergency as cases began to arise once again. Due to this, fans are no longer allowed to attend any of the events. Empty stadiums and arenas won't be anything new to these athletes and the casual viewer who is watching from their couch, as it is something we all unfortunately got used to over the last year and a half. However, we have never seen the emptiness on a stage quite as big as the Olympics. While it is an unfortunate setback, there is no doubt that the athletes competing this summer are just glad that after a year long delay, they finally have the opportunity to do just that, compete. 

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