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Sports

Here Are The North Carolinians Competing In The Olympics For Team USA In Tokyo

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo is pictured outside the Tokyo station in Tokyo on June 22.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Getty Images via NPR
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CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP, Getty Images via NPR
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo is pictured outside the Tokyo station in Tokyo on June 22.

When the Olympics begin in Tokyo, Japan on July 21, North Carolina will be well represented.

According to data compiled by WUNC, 33 athletes and coaches with connections to the Tar Heel State will be competing at the delayed summer games.

The 2020 Summer Olympics were supposed to have been held in 2020, but were postponed to an odd year, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Crowds in Tokyo will be smaller than usual, as Japanese officials announced the games will go ahead under a state of emergency and without any spectators at events.

The Olympics will wrap up on Aug. 8, and when they do, North Carolinians are hoping to come home with a few medals.

Here's all of the athletes and coaches connected to North Carolina who will be competing for Team USA. Some were born here, some went to school here, some work here and some just live here now.

This post will be updated throughout July and August.


Bam Adebayo

Heat Celtics Basketball
Charles Krupa
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo plays against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Boston.

  • Event: Men's Basketball
  • NC Connection: Graduate of High Point Christian Academy; 2016 North Carolina Mr. Basketball

The 6-foot-9 23-year-old is a native of Newark, New Jersey, but played his high school basketball in the Tar Heel State, first at Northside High School in Pinetown and then in High Point. There, he became a McDonald's All-American, spent a season at the University of Kentucky and was then drafted by the Miami Heat. Adebayo was an NBA All-Star in 2020 and has twice been named to the league's All-Defensive Team. This will be his first Olympics.


Shane Baz

Shane Baz
Mary DeCicco
This is a 2021 photo of Shane Baz of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the Tampa Bay Rays active roster as of Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 when this image was taken.

  • Event: Baseball
  • NC Connection: Durham Bulls Pitcher

A Triple-A pitcher of the Week and All-Star Futures game player, Baz was taken 12th overall by Pittsburgh in the 2017 amateur draft, and is 3-4 with a 2.12 ERA for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, where he plays as right-handed pitcher. Baseball is back in the Olympics this year for the first time since 2008. Team USA has not won gold in it since 2000. Former Kannapolis Intimidators manager Ernie Young will be the team's hitting coach.


Erika Brown

US Swimming Olympic Trials
Jeff Roberson
Erika Brown participates in the women's 50 freestyle during the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 19, 2021, in Omaha, Neb.

  • Event: Swimming (100-meter freestyle)
  • NC Connection: Native of Charlotte; Graduate of Hough High School
  • Win: Placed 3rd as part of women's 4x100 Freestyle Relay

A 2016 graduate of Hough High School in Cornelius, Brown qualified for her first Olympics by placing second in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 53.59 seconds. After winning a pair of state championships in North Carolina, Brown attended the University of Tennessee and was named the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year in 2020.


Andrew Capobianco

South Korea Swimming Worlds
Lee Jin-man
United States' Andrew Capobianco performs in the mixed team event diving final at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

  • Event: Diving (3M Synchro Springboard; 3M Springboard)
  • NC Connection: Graduate of Holly Springs High School

A native of New York who moved to Holly Springs at the age of 13, Capobianco will be competing in his first Olympics. He is one of the top divers in college athletics currently, as he's been named Big Ten Diver of the Year twice and has garnered seven All-American honors. He's won a pair of NCAA national championships in the 3-meter dive, which is one of two events he'll compete in at the Olympics.


Anna Cockrell

US Track Trials Athletics
Ashley Landis
Anna Cockrell wins the third heat of the women's 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore.

  • Event: 400-meter hurdles
  • NC Connection: Graduate of Providence Day School in Charlotte

Cockrell was born in California and attends USC, but lists Charlotte as her hometown. At the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 27, Cockrell clocked a time of 53.70 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles to break her own USC record and to finish third at the trials, securing her spot in Tokyo. It will be Cockrell's first Olympic games. This past spring, she became just the second woman ever to win the 100-meter hurdle and 400-meter hurdle events at the NCAA championships.


Gabbi Cunningham

Cunningham.jpeg
Courtesy of N.C. State University
Gabbi Cunningham will run the 100-meter hurdles in the Tokyo Olympics.

Event: 100-meter hurdles
NC Connection: Former N.C. State sprinter; Charlotte native

A two-time All-American who ran for the Wolfpack, Cunningham will run the 100-meter hurdles as a replacement for U.S. hurdles champion Brianna McNeal. Cunningham is a former USA Pan-American junior team member. She came in at fourth place at the 100m hurdles trial, clocking in at 12.53 seconds, a personal best for her.


Claire Curzan

US Swimming Olympic Trials
Charlie Neibergall
Claire Curzan dives at the start of a women's 50-meter freestyle preliminary heat during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Omaha, Neb.

  • Event: Swimming (100-meter butterfly)
  • NC Connection: Cary resident; Student at Cardinal Gibbons High School

Curzan, a 16-year-old phenom of sorts, finished second in the 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska with a time of 56.43 seconds to qualify for the Olympics. The Cardinal Gibbons product will be one of the youngest competitors ― in any sport ― in Tokyo. Curzan hasn't committed to a college yet, but the website SwimSwam has tabbed her as the top prospect in the 2022 class. Curzan will turn 17 on June 30 and shares a birthday with 23-time gold medalist Michael Phelps.


Crystal Dunn

Crystal Dunn NC Courage
Mitchell Northam
Before she joined the Portland Thorns, Crystal Dunn played with the North Carolina Courage from 2018 through 2020.

  • Event: Women's Soccer
  • NC Connection: UNC-Chapel Hill graduate

Dunn helped the Tar Heels win a national championship in women's soccer in 2012, and then starred for the North Carolina Courage from 2018 to 2020, powering the club to two NWSL championships. Dunn now plays professionally for the Portland Thorns and this will be her second Olympics. In the 2016 games, Dunn scored in a group stage draw against Colombia. Like Sam Mewis, she was also a key part of the 2019 USWNT that won the World Cup.


Tim Federowicz

Rangers 2020 Baseball
Charlie Riedel
This is a 2020 photo of Tim Federowicz of the Texas Rangers baseball team. This image reflects the Texas Rangers active roster as of Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, when this image was taken.

  • Event: Baseball
  • NC Connection: Graduate of Apex High School; Former UNC player

    An All-ACC selection for the Tar Heels, Federowicz played eight seasons in the major leagues, most recently with the Texas Rangers in 2019. Before joining Team USA for the Olympics, Federowicz had been playing for the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Oklahoma City. Federowicz is playing as a catcher for the Americans, but has also been deployed as a first baseman and relief pitcher in the past. Baseball is back in the Olympics this year for the first time since 2008. Team USA has not won gold in it since 2000. Former Kannapolis Intimidators manager Ernie Young will be the team's hitting coach.


    Naomi Graham

    graham boxing olympics
    David Zalubowski
    USA Boxing team member Naomi Graham trains in a gym on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    • Event: Boxing (75kg)
    • NC Connection: Native of Fayetteville

    The 32-year-old staff sergeant in the U.S. Army grew up in Fayetteville as the youngest of six kids. A member of the Army's World Class Athlete Program, Graham placed first in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for boxing and first in her division in the 2019 Pan American Games. In 2018, Under Armour named her the Elite Female Boxer of the Year. She has won medals in competitions in India, Spain and Poland. This will be her first Olympics and she is the first female to represent USA Boxing in the Olympics while being an active duty member of the military.


    Chelsea Gray

    Chelsea Gray
    Elaine Thompson
    Las Vegas Aces' Chelsea Gray plays against the Seattle Storm during WNBA game on May 15, 2021.

    • Event: Women's Basketball
    • NC Connection: Duke graduate

    A native of California, Gray starred for the Blue Devils from 2010 through 2014 and was twice an All-ACC selection. She helped guide to Duke to three ACC regular season titles and three trips to the Elite Eight. In the WNBA, Gray has been an All-Star three times and won a championship in 2016 with the LA Sparks. This will be her first Olympics, and she is also the first Duke women's basketball player to play in the games.


    Tobin Heath

    The U.S. women's national team is bringing a veteran roster to the Tokyo Olympics, including Crystal Dunn (left), Tobin Heath and Lloyd.
    Harry How/Getty Images via NPR
    The U.S. women's national team is bringing a veteran roster to the Tokyo Olympics, including Crystal Dunn (left), Tobin Heath and Lloyd.

    • Event: Women's Soccer
    • NC Connection: UNC graduate

    One of the most decorated women's soccer players from UNC, Heath helped the Tar Heels win four ACC titles and three NCAA championships during her time in Chapel Hill. As a pro, she's been a mainstay on the U.S. women's national team since appearing in her first Olympics in 2008. This will be her fourth Olympics and she has the chance to win her third gold medal in the competition.


    Kendra Harrison

    Qatar Athletics Worlds
    Morry Gash
    Kendra Harrison won silver in the women's 100 meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in 2019.

    • Event: 100-meter hurdles
    • NC Connection: Graduate of Clayton High School; Former Gatorade North Carolina Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year

    Kendra "Keni" Harrison won the women's 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 12.47 seconds. It will be the first Olympics for the 5-foot-4 28-year-old. When she was at Clayton High School, Harrison won a pair of state titles and then went on to Clemson where she was an ACC champion in two events. Harrison transferred to Kentucky and won a pair of SEC championships too. This was her third time competing in the Olympic trials.


    Quanera Hayes

    US Track Trials Athletics
    Chris Carlson
    Quanera Hayes won the women's 400-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 20, 2021, in Eugene, Ore.

    • Event: 400-meter sprint
    • NC Connection: Native of Hope Mills; Graduate of Livingstone College

    At the U.S. Olympic Trials, Hayes clocked a season-best time of 49.78 seconds to finish first in the 400-meter sprint, booking her first ticket to the Olympics. At the trials, the 29-year-old Hayes was the only runner who was a product of a Division II HBCU. Represented by Nike, she bested Allyson Felix, a nine-time medalist. Hayes' son Demetrius joined his mom on the track after her victory on June 20.


    Adrian Hegyvary

    Adrian-Hegyvary-Track-Headshot.jpg
    Team USA
    The event Hegyvary is competing in, the Madison, is new to the Olympics this year.

    • Event: Track Cycling (Madison)
    • NC Connection: Resident of Asheville

    The 6-foot-3 Hegyvary will make his Olympic debut this summer as part of the U.S. team competing in the Madison, a relay event in track cycling. He and Daniel Holloway placed first in the Madison at the National Track Championships in 2017, 2018 and 2019. At the Olympics, Hegryvary will pair with Gavin Hoover in the event. Hegyvary's wife, Rushlee Buchanan, is an Olympic cyclist for New Zealand.


    David Kendziera

    Kendziera_David_082717_2MJ5482.jpg
    University of Illinois Athletics
    Kendziera was a 10-time All-American and a four-time NCAA champ in college.

    • Event: 400-meter hurdles
    • NC Connection: Chapel Hill resident; UNC volunteer coach

    Kendziera finished third at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 48.38 seconds. He's a graduate of the University of Illinois where he was the 2017 Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year, but volunteers as a coach with the track team at UNC, assisting Adrian Wheatley with the sprinters and hurdlers. This will be Kendziera's first Olympics, and he'll be competing against UNC graduate Kenny Selmon.


    Lucas Kozeniesky

    LucasKozenieskyHS.jpg
    N.C. State Athletics
    Kozeniesky is a 2017 graduate of N.C. State

    • Event: Rifle (10-meter air)
    • NC Connection: N.C. State graduate

    This will be the second Olympics for Kozeniesky, who placed 21st in the 10-meter air rifle event at the Rio Olympics in 2016. That year, he became the first shooter from N.C. State to compete in the Olympics. The Fairfax, Virginia native will aim to fare better this time around. In his last major international competition, the 2019 Pan American Games, he won gold.


    Kara Lawson

    Kara Lawson works with Duke players during her first practice as the school's head women's basketball coach on Oct. 14, 2020
    Duke Athletics
    Duke went 3-1 in Lawson's first season. It was shortened after players decided to cancel it due to COVID-19.

    • Event: 3x3 Women's Basketball
    • NC Connection: Duke women's basketball head coach

    Lawson has been coaching with USA basketball since 2017 and has coached the women's 3x3 team to seven gold medals in various competitions. But this year, for the first time ever, 3x3 basketball is an Olympic sport. Lawson will be the head coach of the team in Tokyo. A former Olympian herself -- winning the gold as a player in 2008 in Beijing -- Lawson will also work for NBC as a TV analyst during other basketball events. This past season was her first as the head women's basketball coach at Duke.


    Evy Leibfarth

    ICF_Canoe_slalom_World_Championships_Evy_Leibfarth
    Antoine Lamielle via WikiMedia Commons
    Leibfarth, 17, placed first in two events at the Olympic Trials.

    • Event: Kayak Slalom; Canoe Slalom
    • NC Connection: Resident of Bryson City; Student at Davidson College

    One of the top whitewater paddlers in the country, the 17-year-old from western North Carolina is the only female paddler on the U.S. Olympic Team. And with women's slalom canoe making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, Leibfarth will be the first American woman to compete in the sport on the Olympic level. She qualified for the Olympics back in 2019 at the age of 15. She's been medaling at international events since 2015, but this will be her first Olympics. At the 2021 US Olympic Team Trials, she placed first in both of her events.


    Sam Mewis

    Britain Soccer Women's FA Cup
    Adam Davy
    Sam Mewis had a brief stint with English giant Manchester City this past season, tallying seven goals and two assists in 17 appearances.

    • Event: Women's Soccer
    • NC Connection: North Carolina Courage midfielder

    A 6-foot-1 native of Massachusetts, Mewis has called North Carolina home since coming to the state with the NWSL's Courage in 2017. Since then, she's helped the club win a pair of NWSL championships and two shields. On the international stage, this will be Mewis' first Olympics, but she was a key member of the women's national team that won the World Cup in 2019. Mewis is sure to start often for the Americans in Tokyo; back in March, ESPN tabbed her as the best women's soccer player in the world.

    Two of Mewis' North Carolina Courage teammates ― Debinha and Abby Erceg ― will be suiting up at the Olympics for Brazil and New Zealand, respectively. Additionally, North Carolina Courage forward Lynn Williams is an alternate for the U.S. team.


    Randolph Ross

    NCAA Outdoor Championships
    Thomas Boyd
    North Carolina A&T's Randolph Ross won the men's 400 meters during the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

    • Event: 400-meter sprint
    • NC Connection: Graduate of Garner High School; Sophomore at North Carolina A&T

    The son of North Carolina A&T track and field coach Duane Ross ― who ran in the 2004 Olympics ― Randolph Ross won the NCAA championship in the 400-meter sprint this past spring with a world-leading time of 43.85 seconds. On the same track in Eugene, Orgeon on June 20, he qualified for his first Olympics by finishing third with a time of 44.74 seconds, behind a pair of two professional sprinters in Michael Norman and Michael Cherry at the U.S. Olympic Trials.


    Joe Ryan

    Joe Ryan
    John Bazemore
    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Joe Ryan works against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning of a spring training baseball game on Monday, March 15, 2021, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

    • Event: Baseball
    • NC Connection: Durham Bulls Pitcher

    A former water polo player, Ryan is a starting right-hand pitcher for the Triple A Durham Bulls. He pitched for USA Baseball during the Olympic Qualifier in June. Baseball is back in the Olympics this year for the first time since 2008. Team USA has not won gold in it since 2000. Former Kannapolis Intimidators manager Ernie Young will be the team's hitting coach.


    Ryder Ryan

    Ryder Ryan
    Vera Nieuwenhuis
    New York Mets Ryder Ryan pitches during a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins on Saturday, Feb 22, 2020, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Mets won 5-3.

    Event: Baseball
    NC Connection: Huntersville native; former UNC Chapel Hill player

    A Midwest League All-Star and Florida State League All-Star, Ryan plays as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers. He played at UNC Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels his freshman and sophomore years and later signed with Cleveland rather than return to school. He's played for the New York Mets, the Columbia Fireflies, St. Lucie Mets, and most recently, was assigned to the Round Rock Express of the Triple-A West league.


    Kenny Selmon

    Selmon_Kenny
    UNC Athletics
    Selmon was a four-time All-American at UNC.

    • Event: 400-meter hurdles
    • NC Connection: UNC graduate

    A former three-time ACC champion, Selmon punched his ticket to his first Olympics by finishing second in the 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials. His time of 48.08 seconds at the trials were his personal best. Selmon left UNC holding 10 program records in track and field.


    Luka Slabe

    luka-slabe-ncst.jpg
    N.C. State Athletics

    • Event: Women's Volleyball
    • NC Connection: N.C. State women's volleyball head coach

    Slabe, a native of Slovenia, has been the head coach of the women's volleyball team at N.C. State since 2020 and has worked with USA Volleyball for three years. Before that, he was an assistant coach for the men's team at BYU, his alma mater. Slabe has also been the head coach of the men's Slovenian national team. On June 25, Slabe helped guide the American women to their third-straight FIVB Volleyball Nations League trophy.


    Michael Smolen

    Rio Olympics Canoe Slalom Men
    Kirsty Wigglesworth
    Michal Smolen competes during the kayak K1 men's semifinal of the Canoe Slalom at the 2016 Summer Olympics in 2016 in Brazil.

    • Event: Canoe Slalom
    • NC Connection: Resident of Charlotte; Graduate of Belmont Abbey College

    Smolen was born in Poland, but grew up in Sylva, went to Belmont Abbey College and now lives in Charlotte. This will be his second appearance at the Olympics for the U.S., as he placed 12th in Single Kayak at the 2016 games in Rio. His father Ralph was once a member of the Polish national team.


    John Stefanowicz

    stefanowicz.JPG
    Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers Are Warriors via TeamUSA.org
    Stefanowicz, a native of Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania, won a title at the 2020 Pan American Championships.

    • Event: Greco Roman Wrestling (87kg)
    • NC Connection: Marine Staff Sgt. at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville

    A two-time gold medalist at the Pan-American Wrestling Championships, Stefanowicz qualified for his first Olympics in April by sweeping competitor Joe Rau in the 87kg (192 pounds) bout. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Stefanowicz is a member of the All-Marine Wrestling Team and will be the first member of that team to compete in the Olympics since 1992.


    Trevor Stewart

    Drake Relays Athletics
    Charlie Neibergall
    N.C. A&T's Trevor Stewart runs during the men's 4x400-meter relays at the Drake Relays on April 24, 2021.

    • Event: 4x400-meter relay
    • NC Connection: North Carolina A&T senior

    With a time of 44.9 seconds at the 400-meter sprint finals, Stewart placed fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials, just behind his teammate Randolph Ross. While he didn't make the cut for the 400-meter sprint at the Olympics, Stewart's time was good enough to earn him a spot on the relay team. Stewart and Ross will be part of the first group of N.C. A&T athletes to appear at the Olympics since 1992. Also part of that group is Akeem Sirleaf and Daniel Stokes, who will be representing Liberia and Mexico, respectively.


    Jayson Tatum

    Jayson Tatum
    Elise Amendola
    Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) dunks against the Brooklyn Nets in the second half of Game 4 during an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Boston.

    • Event: Men's Basketball
    • NC Connection: Former Duke player

    Tatum spent just one season at Duke, but was one of the top players in the country, earning All-ACC and All-ACC Tournament Team honors and led the Blue Devils to a No. 2 seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament. Since then, he's become one of the top players in the NBA, averaging more than 23 points-per-game in the past two seasons while earning All-Star nods. This will be Tatum's first Olympics. Another one-and-done Duke player, RJ Barrett, will play for Canada.


    Ashley Twichell

    EPWFVFHAINLXHPG.20141024230156.jpg
    Duke Athletics
    Twichell was an All-American and All-ACC champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle at Duke.

    • Event: Swimming (10-kilometer)
    • NC Connection: Duke graduate; Duke volunteer coach

    A 2011 graduate of Duke, Twichell was an All-American and an ACC champion while swimming for the Blue Devils. She joined Duke's staff as a volunteer assistant coach in 2014 and has since trained in Cary. The 32-year-old will be the oldest first-time swimmer at an Olympics for Team USA since 1908.


    Caine Wilkes

    maxresdefault.jpg
    Team USA via YouTube
    Wilkes is a three-time Pan American champion.

    • Event: Weightlifting (+109kg)
    • NC Connection: Resident of Matthews

    Wilkes has been lifting weights for more than 20 years, but this will be his first Olympics. A native of Chesapeake, Virginia, Wilkes moved to Matthews to train. He is a three-time Pan American champion -- winning in 2014, 2017 and 2019 -- and garnered silver medals three other times. He will be 34 years-old when the games start.


    Jordan Windle

    JordanWindle.png
    University of Texas Athletics
    Windle was a nine-time All-American at Texas.

    • Event: Diving (3-meter, 10-meter)
    • NC Connection: Grew up in Morrisville

    Windle was addopted from Cambodia when he was 18 months old and raised by his adoptive father, Jerry Windle, in Morrisville. Windle began training in diving at Duke several years ago. At the University of Texas, he was a three-time men's Big 12 Diver of the Year and was an NCAA champion in platform diving in 2019.


    Katie Zaferes

    Katie Zaferes
    David Goldman
    Katie Zaferes, of the United States, crosses the finish line in the women's individual triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo.

    • Event: Triathalon
    • NC Connection: Cary resident
    • Win: Placed 3rd in the women's individual triathlon

    A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Zaferes is a professional triathlete. who is the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Series women's champion. She ran track while attending North Carroll High School and Syracuse University.


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