OLYMPIC HOPEFULS

By Carol Elliott | Fall 2019

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'TO CHANGE THE WORLD BY MASTERING A GAME'

Former Irish basketball player Natalie Achonwa described it as, “Chills. It’s butterflies. It’s everything.”

Notre Dame runner Anna Rohrer: “No higher goal.”

Zach Yeadon, swimmer: “The only tattoo my mom will let me get.”

All are references to the Olympic Games, the contest of contests where its creed, “Swifter, Higher, Stronger” describes the athletes’ collective dreams as much as their athletic efforts.

Today, more than two dozen Notre Dame athletes, current and former, are moving incrementally toward their ultimate goal of competing in the 2020 summer games in Tokyo. Today, in the lead up to the games, all are ramping up training through extra hours in the gym, pool, track and court, in the home stretch to a goal most of us can only distantly understand, much less dream about.

Let’s cheer them and remember that these athletes represent all of us in the biggest way on the grandest stage, as best expressed by poet Sean O’Brien in his poem “Dignified”:

The purpose stays essentially the same:
To do what’s difficult because they can,
To sign in gold an ordinary name
Across the air from Georgia to Japan,
To change the world by mastering a game.


MENDOZA ATHLETES

Anna RohrerAnna Rohrer’s (MSM ’20, ND ’19) career at Notre Dame is a testimony to perseverance as much as competitive triumph. The long-distance runner battled chronic injuries while still racking up accolades including finishing first overall in the 10K at the ACC Championships as a senior. She hopes to compete in the 10K in the 2020 or 2024 Olympics.

Zach Yeadon (BBA ’21) set his sights on the Olympics when he started swimming at age 6. It’s a journey that can be measured in hours — 20 per week training in the pool, week after week — and miles as the freestyle swimmer competes in the long-distance races. He plans to compete in the 400-meter and 800-meter events in the Olympic trials.

 

Natalie Achonwa throwing a basketballNatalie Achonwa (BBA ’14), who plays for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, ended her ND basketball career with a torn ACL. But that’s not how she’s remembered. A fierce competitor, Achonwa — the first and only international player for ND women’s basketball — was part of an Irish team that had three National Championship appearances. She also played for Canada in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, winning a team silver in 2012.

Gerek Meinhardt wearing a gold olympic medalGerek Meinhardt (MBA ’15, BBA ’13), opposite page, bottom, is something of an Olympic veteran, competing as a foil fencer in the last three games and winning bronze with the team in Rio. In fact, when he first competed in 2008, Meinhardt was the youngest athlete ever to compete on a U.S. Olympic Fencing Team and one of the youngest in any sport.


2020 OLYMPIC HOPEFULS

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Zach Auguste ’16
Greece
BA (Film, Television & Theatre)

Martinas Geben ’18
Lithuania
BBA (Management Consulting)

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Natalie Achonwa ’14
Canada
BBA (Management Consulting)

Skylar Diggins-Smith ’13
USA
BBA (Management Entrepreneurship)

Kayla McBride ’14
USA
BBA (Marketing)

a fencer jumps in the air to score on his opponentFENCING

Amita Berthier ’22
Singapore
BA (Undeclared)

Stephen Ewart ’23
USA
BBA (Business Analytics)

Courtney Hurley ’13
USA
BA (Film, Television & Theatre)

Kelley Hurley ’10
USA
BA (Art Studio)

Nick Itkin ’23
USA
BA (Political Science)

James Kaull ’13
USA
BA (Political Science)

Lee Kiefer ’17
USA
BS (Pre-professional)

Gerek Meinhardt ’15, ’13
USA
MBA, BBA (Information Technology Management)

Ewa Nelip ’15, ’13
Poland
MSA, BBA (Finance)

Jonah Shainberg ’18
USA
BBA (Management Consulting)

Ariel Simmons ’21
USA
BBA (Business Analytics)

Amanda Sirico ’19
USA
BFA (Visual Communication Design)

SWIMMING & DIVING

Abbie Dolan ’20
USA
BA (English Language and Literature)

Zach Yeadon ’21
USA
BBA (Management Consulting)

TRACK & FIELD

Chris Giesting ’15
USA
BBA (Management Entrepreneurship)

Molly Huddle ’06
USA
BS (Biological Sciences)

Anna Rohrer ’20, ’19
USA
MSM, BA (Neuroscience & Behavior)

Molly Seidel ’16
USA
BA (Anthropology)

PARALYMPIC GAMES

Sam Grewe ’21
USA Track & Field (high jump)
BS (Pre-professional)

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