By Jill Girgulis, August 30 2016 —
The 2016 Summer Olympics took place this August in Rio de Janeiro, where six former Dinos and many more Calgary-based athletes competed for medals. Team Canada performed exceptionally at the Games this year with 22 medals in total, including four gold. Compared to the 18 medals and one gold earned in London four years ago, it exceeded expectations on all counts.
Former Dinos wrestler Erica Wiebe was one of Canada’s 2016 Olympic champions, grappling her way through four matches to emerge victorious in the 75-kilogram freestyle wrestling competition. Her victory marked the first ever gold medal for a female Dinos alumnus at the Summer Olympics.
Former Dinos volleyball players Jay Blankenau and Graham Vigrass served their way to the men’s volleyball quarter-finals before bowing out to their Russian opponents. Rio 2016 was the first Olympic appearance by a Canadian men’s volleyball team since 1992 in Barcelona.
Other Dinos highlights include performances by alumni Jason Block and Jessica O’Connell, who competed in swimming and track and field, respectively. Block swam in the 100m breaststroke competition, finishing third in his heat and just missing out on the semifinals. He also swam the breaststroke leg of the 4x100m medley relay, where the Canadian men’s team placed eighth in their heat. O’Connell raced in the 5000m event on the track and earned a 13th place finish in her first ever Olympic performance.
Calgary athletes Allison Beveridge and Akeem Haynes also contributed to Canada’s medal haul in Rio, earning bronze medals with their teammates in the women’s track cycling team pursuit and the men’s 4x100m track relay sprint, respectively.
Team Canada’s success was due in part to the contributions of Calgary-based athletes. While the U of C has produced many Winter Olympic champions, the success of Dinos athletes at this year’s Olympics shows the future is bright for Tokyo 2020.