Cavs in London: UVA among top Olympic 'countries'
Of the 14,000 athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, the 11 young men and women with ties to the University of Virginia – including a pair of gold medal winners– constitute one of the more successful "nations."
"The university community is proud of the efforts of our student athletes that are competing on the biggest stage of all," Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage says in email.
Four of the now and future Cavaliers competing in London are swimmers, including Switzerland’s David Karasek (UVA Class of ’12). Breaking his own Swiss national record in the event with a time of 2:01.35, he finished 28th in the men's 200-meter individual medley, while countryman and incoming UVA freshman, Yannick Kaeser (’16), the national record holder in the men’s 200m breaststroke, finished 24th in his event.
The big UVA swim winners were Matt McLean (’11) and Lauren Perdue (’13), each earning a gold medal as a member of their respective 200-meter freestyle relay. Perdue says she underwent back surgery five months ago and never expected to make the Olympics, let alone win a gold.
"Having to deal with disappointment and injury this past year," says Perdue, "has made this experience even more meaningful to me."
A prominent UVA sports blog, streakingthelawn.com, noted that the golds from Perdue and McLean tied UVA– as if it were a country– with South Africa in the gold standings and surpassed dozens of other countries. And there are Cavs still in the running.
For instance, Becky Sauerbrunn (’07) is a member of the favored U.S. Women's Soccer team that bested Canada during a nail-biting overtime in the semifinals to qualify for the final match against Japan on Thursday, August 9. And while the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey team suffered losses to put it out of medal contention, Paige Selenski (’13) and Michelle Vitesse (’13) each earned field time and may play for 11th place on Friday.
Cavaliers competed in several other disciplines, including rowing, equestrian, and tennis, garnering respectable finishes and often breaking national or personal records along the way. And Littlepage anticipates a warm homecoming.
"Due to their participation in the Games and their full dedication to their sports and countries, they are all champions," says Littlepage.