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UC breaks Olympics drought with 3 Bearcats headed to Tokyo

Three sports. Three countries. Three athletes that bleed red and black.
Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 10:34 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The University of Cincinnati hasn’t been represented at the Summer Olympics since 2008 when track star Mary Wineberg won gold in Beijing.

But that drought is about to end in a big way.

No fewer than three former Bearcats are Tokyo-bound. Each will march behind a different flag during the opening ceremonies on July 23.

Jordan Thompson is an All-American volleyball player at UC. She’ll wear the stars and stripes this summer and calls the chance to represent Cincinnati and UC “huge.”

“It’s just an unreal feeling,” she said. “Just a huge opportunity to put Cincinnati on the map.”

Vanessa Giles played soccer at UC. She’ll represent Canada in Tokyo.

Like Thompson, Giles says playing on the world stage can be a game-changer for a school like UC.

“I think other athletes can see our journeys and see you don’t have to go to these, like, big, well-known powerhouses to be successful,” she said. “You can find success and you can have your own journey, and there are other schools that can provide that and can support you through it.”

Annette Echikunwoke recently won a national championship in the hammer throw at UC. She’ll compete for Nigeria.

“Anything is possible,” said Susan Seaton, UC Track and Field director.

Seaton says this golden generation of athletic talent at UC speaks to the high level of coaching taking place.

“We have an outstanding football program. We have great basketball. But we also have great Olympic sports, and there’s a lot of work that’s being put into these athletes to, you know, allow them to move on after college and compete at the biggest stage the world has to offer.”

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