Ten huskies compete in Olympic games
Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012 13:08
The University of Connecticut will be well represented at The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, as 10 athletes with UConn ties will be competing in the games.
Last night The Games of the XXX Olympiad officially opened with usual pageantry that accompanies the opening ceremony, which included the traditional parade of nations and the lighting of the Olympic caldron. UConn sophomore Chinyere Pigot had the ultimate honor of being the flag bearer for her native country of Suriname. Pigot is a swimmer at UConn and will compete in her first event on Friday, the Women's 50m Freestyle. This past season Pigot earned All-BIG EAST honors for her performance in the 50-yard freestyle as she set a new school record with a time of 23.19 seconds.
The Olympic Games are not unchartered waters for Pigot, as she competed in The 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing at the age of just 15 years old. In Beijing she finished her second heat of the Women’s 50m Freestyle in 27.66 seconds, which was not enough to advance to the semifinals. Pigot’s younger brother Diguan, who will be a freshman at UConn this fall, is also competing in London. He swam in the Men’s 100 meter breaststroke Saturday morning, finishing third in the first heat with a time of 1:05.55.
Former Husky, Phylicia George will represent Canada in the Women's 100m Hurdles on Monday. George was a 2 time ECAC Champion in the 4 X 100 during her career with UConn. She was also a BIG EAST Champion in the 4 X 100 during the 2009-10 season. The London games will be her first appearance on the Olympic stage.
Another former UConn athlete competing in London will be Melissa Gonzalez, who played field hockey for the Huskies from 2007-2010. At UConn, Gonzalez scored 27 goals and was selected as an All-BIG EAST First Team member for three years in a row from 2008-2010. Gonzalez is playing in her first Olympics and will represent Team USA in field hockey, as they begin play Sunday, July 29.
The team with the most UConn ties is without a doubt the U.S. Women’s Basketball team with six former Huskies taking the court. Current UConn Women’s Basketball head coach Geno Auriemma will lead the team as head coach in their quest for a fifth straight gold medal. Among the six athletes with UConn ties are two time Olympic gold medalists, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. Both Bird and Taurasi won gold in the 2004 and 2008 games for Team USA. Swin Cash was also a member of the 2004 gold medal team in Athens. Auriemma earned a gold medal when he was an assistant coach with Team USA at the games in Sydney in 2000.
Former Huskies Tina Charles and Asjha Jones will also join their fellow UConn alums, along with Maya Moore. Auriemma was very excited about having the opportunity to coach his former players as he told Pat Eaton-Robb in an interview with the Associated Press.
“This is an opportunity that may only come once ever," Auriemma said. "When was the last time a U.S. Olympic team had six players from one school? It's something that everyone in Connecticut can support and be proud of.”
All six former UConn players have found success professionally in the WNBA after their time in Husky uniform. Taurasi and Bird each have won two WNBA titles. Cash has captured three WNBA titles in 2003, 2006 and 2010. Jones was drafted to the WNBA in 2002 and is a two time WNBA All-Star. Charles was the 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year and Moore won a WNBA title with the Minnesota Lynx in her rookie season last year.
Team USA has won an impressive 34 games in a row. Their most recent victory came Saturday in an 81-56 win over Croatia. Charles led Team USA with 14 points, while Taurasi scored eight points and recorded three assists in the victory. Jones and Cash did not see much playing time in the game against Croatia while Bird scored five points and Moore added two points respectively. The Americans will play their next game on Monday when they take on Angola.