The Olympic Games are back. Just two years after hosting the World Cup, the eyes of the world’s sports enthusiasts will once again be on Brazil – though the games haven’t even begun and they already have been, as everything from water contamination to the country’s socioeconomic policies have been under intense international scrutiny.
But the dreams of nearly a dozen Minnesotans will be made this summer. This competition, the word’s largest display of international might and athleticism, is what these athletes have worked for their entire lives.
Here are the Minnesotans traveling to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio:
The world-champion Minnesota Lynx are sending half of their team (not actually, but it seems like it), with Seimone Augustus, Lindsey Whalen, Maya More, and Sylvia Fowles, as well as coach Cheryl Reeve, all have spots on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. Augustus and Fowles both won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, and Whalen and Moore joined them for the 2012 games. Coach Reeve is the only first-timer.
There a couple of Minnesotans hitting the rugby field as well. Garrett Bender, a forward with the Men’s Eagles Sevens on the men’s team, and Katie Johnson, a center with the Twin Cities Amazons W.R.C. will play with the women. Neither player has prior Olympic experience.
Paula Lynn Obanana women’s doubles badminton player from St. Paul, ranked 29th in the world, will represent the U.S. in Doubles Badminton
U of M grad, and 14 time All-American, David Plummer will swim the 100-meter backstroke in his first Olympic appearance.
Megan Kalmoe, originally from Minneapolis, will be rowing in the women’s quadruple sculls event in her third Olympic games. The team took fifth in 2008 (in double scull) and pulled out a bronze medal (for quad scull) in 2012.
Heather Miller-Koch will participate in the heptathlon. She made her name at St. Cloud State, where she was a national champion. This is her first Olympic games.
Ben Blankenship of Stillwater and Hassan Mead of Minneapolis will run the 1,500 and 5,000 races respectively to represent Minnesota on the race track. Neither runner has Olympic experience,
Gwen Jorgensen, a triathlete who lives in St. Paul, will try again to win gold after her bike got a flat tire in the 2012 games.
Alise Post of St. Cloud will bring her bike to Brazil to compete in the BMX race looking for a medal after finishing 12th in 2012.
St. Paul’s Kelly Catlin will ride for the first time in Women’s team pursuit after cycling to gold in the 2016 World Championships.
17-year-old Kiana Eide, originally from St. Francis, already a veteran of two World Championships, will compete in rhythmic gymnastics in her first Olympic games.
And, representing perhaps the world’s oldest sport, Greco-Roman wrestler Andy Bisek from Chaska will be wrestling in the 75kg weight class looking for Olympic gold.