UNC Students, Alumni Athletes Headed for Olympics

Athletes around the world dreamed of qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August. For several former and current UNC athletes, that dream came true.

As the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field came to a conclusion, one last Tar Heel qualified for the Olympic Team. Erin Donohue ’05 ran the 1,500-meter in Beijing after finishing second at the trials in Eugene, Ore.

Shalane Flanagan ’05 made the team early in the track and field trials after winning the U.S. championship 10,000-meter run in 31:34.81, setting a new record for the all-time mark on Hayward Field. Later in the week, Flanagan qualified for the 5,000-meter run, making her the only Tar Heel to compete in two track and field events in the 2008 Games. Alice Schmidt ’04 also qualified to go to Beijing in the 800-meter run, finishing second in the finals of her trial.

UNC sent 14 track and field athletes, both alumni and current students, to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials, which concluded July 6.

Blake Russell ’97 already had qualified for the women’s marathon and finished fifth in the 10,000-meter run, less than a minute behind Flanagan.

The New York Times observed that former UNC runners had earned spots in all five women’s races from 800 meters up – Schmidt in the 800, Donohue in the 1,500, Flanagan in the 5,000 and 10,000, and Russell in the marathon.

Three UNC track and field alumni competed for other countries. Nadine Faustine Parker ’98 represented Haiti in the 100-meter high hurdles, Vikas Gowda ’06 threw the discus for India and Dominic Demeritte ’99 ran the 200-meter dash for the Bahamas. Also, Robyn Gayle ’08 played on the Canadian women’s soccer team.

Six spots on the U.S. women’s field hockey team were filled by Tar Heels. Team members included former players Kate Barber ’99, Carrie Lingo ’02, Amy Tran ’02, Rachel Dawson ’07 and Jesse Gey ’08. Rising sophomore Katelyn Falgowski, 20, was the youngest member of the women’s team.

“Having been an Olympian myself, I understand the distractions that can occur at the Olympic Games,” said UNC field hockey Coach Karen Shelton. “It’s so overwhelming and amazing that you can get caught up in the pageantry. I told them to enjoy it until their competition starts.”

Shelton said she believed the U.S. team was one of the most physically fit teams competing.

Three women’s soccer alumni and a current player were chosen for the Olympic team. The roster included Lori Chalupny ’06, Lindsay Tarpley ’06, Heather O’Reilly ’08 and rising sophomore Tobin Heath. Midfielder Kacey White ’06 served as an alternate but did not play.

Tarpley and O’Reilly returned to the team after winning gold medals in the 2004 Athens games. Heath, a 20-year-old rising junior, was the youngest member on the team.

Dax McCarty ’08 was added to the men’s soccer team in late July.

Bob Largman ’83 attended the Beijing Games as a team leader for the U.S. Fencing Team. Largman has been active in U.S. Fencing since he graduated from Carolina and is a former ACC Champion and Tatum Award winner.

Tar Heels Competing in Beijing

  • Biographical information on the 19 current or former UNC athletes competing in Beijing in 2008. UNC Athletics Department site.
  • Also, click through to bios of each athlete below.

Women’s field hockey, Aug. 10-22
(The U.S. women’s team was eliminated from medal contention on Aug. 18 after a scoreless draw with Britain)
Kate Barber ’99
Rachel Dawson ’07
Katelyn Falgowski, rising sophomore
Jesse Gey ’08
Carrie Lingo ’02
Amy Tran ’02

Women’s soccer, Aug. 6-23
(The U.S. women’s team won the gold medal match on Aug. 21, beating Brazil 1-0 to win the gold for a third time in four Olympics)
Lori Chalupny ’06
Tobin Heath, rising sophomore
Heather O’Reilly ’08
Lindsay Tarpley ’06

Men’s soccer, Aug. 6-23
(The U.S. men’s team was eliminated from competition on Aug. 13 after losing to Nigeria 2-1)
Dax McCarty ’08

Women’s track and field, Aug. 15-24
Erin Donohue ’05 – 1500m (Donohue placed seventh in the second heat for the women’s 1500m with a time of 4:16:05)
Shalane Flanagan ’05 – 5,000m, 10,000m (Flanagan won bronze in the 10,000m on Aug. 15. Her time of 30:22.22 was an American record. She finished 10th in the women’s 5,000m final on Aug. 22. Her time was 15:50:80.)
Blake Russell ’97 – Marathon (Russell finished 27th with a time of 2:33:13)
Alice Schmidt ’04 – 800m (Schmidt placed sixth in round one, heat two, on Aug. 15 with a time of 2:02.33 )

Tar Heels Competing for Other Countries
Dominic Demeritte ’99 (Bahamas) 200m dash
Robyn Gayle ’08 (Canada) Women’s soccer (Canada lost 2-1 to the U.S. on Aug. 15)
Vikas Gowda ’06 (India) Discus
Nadine Faustine Parker ’98 (Haiti) 100m hurdles

Related coverage is available online:

  • Tar Heel Olympic CentralUNC Athletics Department site, providing frequent updates.
  • 2008 Tar Heel Olympians – Biographical information on the 20 current or former UNC athletes competing in Beijing in 2008. UNC Athletics Department site.
  • U.S. Olympic Soccer Preview – Quick facts about the U.S.’s upcoming women’s soccer competition in Beijing. UNC Athletics Department site.
  • Blogging at the Games: Courtney Woo, a graduate student in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is working as a media volunteer at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This link connects to the blog Woo is writing about her experiences working behind the scenes.
  • Tar Heels in the 2004 Olympics
    More than a dozen UNC alumni or current students were involved in the 2004 Olympics. This GAA Publications report details who they were and how they did.

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