Huskies shine in summer games
Published: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2012 13:08
As the 2012 Summer Olympic Games came and went, UConn fans were able to cheer for their country, former Huskies and their classmates.
UConn was well represented with 10 athletes connected to the university competing in London.
Sophomore Chinyere Pigot qualified to represent the South American country of Suriname for the second consecutive Olympics in the Women’s 50-meter Freestyle. At the age of 15, Pigot swam the sprint in 27.66 seconds, this time around she chipped off over a second and finished with a time of 26.30 seconds, which was good enough for third in her heat (40th overall.) However, it was not enough to advance to the semifinals. But her excellence in the pool was not the only honor for Pigot at the XXX Olympiad. At the Opening Ceremonies on July 27, she was chosen to be her nation’s flag bearer, an honor only 204 Olympians can boast.
Her younger brother and soon-to-be Husky, Diguan, also swam for Suriname in the Men’s 100-meter Breaststroke. He went up against some of the sport’s greats including the United State’s Brendan Hansen. Like his sister, he finished third in his heat with a time of 1:05.55 but did not advance to the semifinals. Diguan will be a freshman at UConn this fall.
Former Husky track star Phylicia George was the closest to an individual medal of the ten athletes with UConn ties. George competed in her first Olympic Games for Canada in the Women’s 100-meter Hurdles. The UConn graduate recorded a new personal best time of 12.65, just 0.2 seconds from the podium and good for sixth in the world in the 100-meter hurdles.
“Phylicia George is unbelievable and I couldn’t be more proud and happy for her,” UConn sprints/hurdles coach Clive Terrelonge said. “She rises to the occasion every time even on the biggest stage at the Olympics. This is history for her, me and the University of Connecticut.”
Another former UConn great, Melissa Gonzalez competed on the United States Field Hockey team. The Americans finished 1-4 in London, including four one-goal losses but Team USA did defeat Argentina 1-0, who then went onto to win the silver medal. Gonzalez played 34 minutes in the only victory. At UConn from 2007-2010, Gonzalez scored 27 goals and was selected as a First Team All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association in 2010 and 2009. The London Olympics were the first for Gonzalez, but she has been with the national team since 2009.
The USA Women’s basketball team had 12 spots on the final roster and six of those spots were filled by former Huskies. As each of the Huskies did at Storrs, they brought home the gold under head coach Geno Auriemma. The U.S. Women overcame a four-point halftime deficit to Australia in the semifinals en route to an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal by defeating France 86-50 in the gold medal game. Team USA Captain Sue Bird scored 11 points to go along with Diana Taurasi’s nine points and six assists as the UConn Alums each claimed their third gold medal. Bird led the team with 4.5 assists per game and Taurasi averaged 12.4 points per game, the most on the team.
Swin Cash returned to her second Olympic Games and earned her second gold medal after missing out on the 2008 team due to injury. She scored 3.3 points per game and grabbed 1.4 rebounds in seven games. Cash became the third woman behind Bird and Taurasi to win multiple NCAA, WNBA and Olympic titles. Fellow Huskies Ashja Jones (3.1 ppg), Tina Charles (10.5 ppg), and Maya Moore (9 ppg) each won their first gold medal.
Auriemma helped extend the USA Women’s win streak to 42 games but is unlikely to return as the head coach for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Auriemma said in a press conference, “I worked with a great bunch of people during my time, but if you were to ask me right now, today, I would say it’s someone else’s turn.”