The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were unlike any other Olympics in history, taking place an entire year after originally scheduled and with almost no live spectators. Despite the circumstances, the Olympics went off without a hitch. The torch was lit on July 23rd, and over the next sixteen days, the world’s best athletes gathered and competed on the brightest international stage.
The University of Virginia was well-represented in the Olympics, as several current, former, and future Wahoos participated across a number of events and represented many countries. In total, UVA sent 18 Olympians across six sports and represented seven different countries. Nine of those Cavalier Olympians brought home medals.
Swimming & Diving
Virginia was represented by four athletes on Team USA’s swimming & diving roster, as well as head coach Todd DeSorbo. All four of those athletes won medals in Tokyo. Paige Madden, who graduated from UVA in May, won a silver medal as part of USA’s 4x200m freestyle relay team, alongside Allison Schmitt, Katie McLaughlin, and Katie Ledecky.
Incoming first year Emma Weyant won silver in the 400m individual medley, giving UVA fans an exciting glimpse of things to come for Weyant’s collegiate career in Charlottesville.
In the 200m individual medley, UVA held two of the three positions on the podium, with rising sophomore Alex Walsh winning silver and rising junior Kate Douglass winning bronze.
Seven former Cavaliers competed in Tokyo in rowing events representing four different countries. Representing Team USA were Kristine O’Brien (‘13) and Meghan O’Leary (‘07), who did not row at Virginia, but played on the UVA volleyball and softball teams. Christine Roper (‘11), Susanne Grainger (‘13), and Morgan Rosts (‘18) rowed for Team Canada. Grainger and Roper won gold for Canada in the women’s eight rowing event.
Inge Janssen (‘10) competed in the quad sculls event for the Netherlands, while Hannah Osborne, who attended UVA until 2014, won silver with New Zealand’s double sculls rowing team.
Becky Sauerbrunn (‘07) and Emily Sonnett (‘16) played for Team USA’s women’s soccer team that won a bronze medal in Tokyo. Sauerbrunn won gold with Team USA in 2012 and won two FIFA World Cups in 2015 and 2019. Sonnett was also on the 2019 World Cup team and was an alternate at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Joe Bell, a UVA men’s soccer standout from 2017 to 2019, played for New Zealand, who made it to the quarterfinal stage of the men’s soccer bracket in Tokyo.
While no former Cavalier basketball players were represented on Team USA, two former Hoos suited up for the Olympic basketball rosters of other countries. Mike Tobey, who graduated from UVA in 2016, was a breakout star for Slovenia in the Olympic Games, displaying excellent chemistry with NBA superstar Luka Doncic and averaging 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Doncic and Tobey led Slovenia to a 4-0 start in the Olympics and advanced to the semifinals of the bracket before back-to-back losses against France and then Australia in the third place match robbed Tobey of a medal.
Francisco Caffaro, a redshirt junior, played for Argentina’s Olympic men’s basketball team which advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Australia.
Former UVA women’s basketball star Dawn Staley was the head coach of the USA women’s basketball team that took home gold in Tokyo. Staley won three gold medals as a player and was also an assistant coach on two gold medal teams.
Track & Field
Filip Mihaljevic (‘17) competed in his second Olympics representing Croatia in the shot put. Michaela Meyer, a UVA graduate student who won an individual NCAA championship in the 800m in 2021, was an alternate for Team USA in the 800m.
UVA athletes usually give Wahoo fans a great deal to cheer for with their achievements in collegiate sporting events, but several Cavaliers showed that they can perform on an international level as well in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.