Tokyo is currently full of athletes who went to Ohio State: 26 of them, in fact. The most in school history. Here’s the breakdown: nine current Buckeyes are competing, five for the U.S. and four for their home countries. Three former OSU performers are on Team USA; 14 former (or future) athletes are representing other nations.
Let’s take a look at the Bucks on the U.S. team and see who has a legitimate shot at a medal. I think that there are a couple of them.
Swimmer Hunter Armstrong, OSU 2019-present. Armstrong, from Dover, Ohio, specializes in the backstroke, particularly the 100m. In the recent U.S. Olympic trials, Hunter finished second in the men’s 100m back, behind only defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy. Armstrong’s time of 52.48 seconds is the fourth-best posted in the world during 2021. It’s a fair bit off the pace of Russian Kliment Kolesnikov’s 52.09 and even Murphy’s 52.33. Still, a bronze medial isn’t out of reach.
Wrestler Kyle Snyder, OSU 2015-2018. 25-year-old Kyle Snyder is the defending Olympic champion at 97kg. So, he’s been there, withstood the pressure, and won it. But it was five years ago, and Snyder’s last major championship was at the 2019 Pan American Games. Kyle was three-time NCAA champion and helped the Buckeyes win their first NCAA wrestling title in 2015. In the Trials, Snyder won the best two out of three finals in straight bouts, so he’s on a roll. Fingers crossed!
Sprinter Anavia Battle, OSU 2017-present. The 2017 Big Ten freshman of the year has accumulated seven individual Big Ten titles in her career as a Buckeye and led her team to four different conference championships (indoor and outdoor). At this summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials, Battle finished third in the 200m, qualifying for the Tokyo team. Her time of 21.95 seconds, however, marked the first time that a female collegian had ever broken 22 seconds in the event. It’s the fifth-fastest time overall this year in the world; American Gabrielle Thomas has run a 21.61. For an eye-opening flashback, Florence Griffith-Joyner covered the 200m in 21.34 seconds in 1988. Since medalists in this event are usually more seasoned than is Battle, a medal isn’t likely, but is certainly not out of the question with the accomplishments she’s achieved.
Shot putter Adelaide Aquilla, OSU 2017-present. The 2021 Ohio State female athlete of the year has made tremendous strides in her college career and now is in Tokyo. Aquilla, clearly the top female collegiate shot putter, had been a three-time All American, won both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championship this year (as well as two Big Ten championships), and has broken OSU records in the event. Training with 2019 world champion Joe Kovacs, Adelaide is coached by his wife, Ashley. Aquilla finished third in the U.S. Olympic Trials, with a distance of 18.95m. Great for a student, but well behind first-place Jessica Ramsey’s 20.12m and the 2021 world best 20.39m. I’d love to see Aquilla do really well in Tokyo.
Hurdler Christina Clemons, OSU 2009-2013. Perhaps the most accomplished female track star (maybe even athlete in general) in Buckeye history, Clemons (Manning at OSU) was the 2012 OSU female athlete of the year. She was an 11-time All American (multiple events), a double NCAA champion, and still holds a number of Ohio State records. In the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Clemons finished third in the 100m hurdles with a time of 12.53 seconds. Keni Harrison, the winner, ran in 12.47, and the world’s best time in 2021 is Jasmine Camacho-Quinn’s (Peurto Rico) 12.32 seconds. Clemons is still fast, but, at 31, her medals may be behind her.
Gymnast Alec Yoder, OSU 2015-2019. Yoder has been on the U.S. national gymnastics team since 2013 (2013-15, 2017-present). His specialty is the pommel horse, where he was 2018 U.S. champion and 2021 U.S. silver medalist. 24 years old now, Yoder has been training for his sport since he was four! The Indianapolis native isn’t likely to medal in Tokyo, but he’ll be fun to watch.
Pistol shooters Henry Leverett and Jackson Leverett III, Current OSU students. I saved them for last because I know nothing about pistol shooting and have no idea whether the two brothers are in the running for medals. I do know that there are several pistol events in which men compete: the 10m air pistol, the 25m rapid fire, and the 10m mixed (teamed with a woman). The Leveretts are in rapid fire. Henry qualified as a team member at the Trials, and Jack was elevated from alternate to the team when Keith Sanderson was suspended. Some very experienced international shooters are in Tokyo; Korea’s Jong-oh Jin and Christian Reitz from Germany will provide stiff competition for the Leveretts.
So, now that the Olympics are here, you know whom to cheer for. Put on your OSU tee, drape yourself in Old Glory and cheer away!