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Duke in the Olympics: These Blue Devils are representing their countries

Kara Lawson is the head coach of the United States women's 3x3 basketball team and will serve as a basketball analyst for NBC.
Kara Lawson is the head coach of the United States women's 3x3 basketball team and will serve as a basketball analyst for NBC.

It’s (almost) time for Tokyo. 

The opening ceremonies for the 2020 Olympics are set for Friday and the games will go through August 8. Fourteen different Blue Devils qualified for six different countries, so here’s a breakdown of who to watch for in Tokyo. 

Quinn, women’s soccer, Canada

Quinn had a five-year Duke career filled with accolades and in the middle of it all, they notched their first Olympic appearance in 2016. That came during their senior year, and now they are back for another Olympic run with Canada. Quinn hails from Toronto and is listed on Canada’s roster as a midfielder. Prior to the Olympics, they have been playing in the National Soccer Women’s League since graduating from Duke after their All-American senior season. -Piazza

Chelsea Gray, women’s basketball, United States

Gray has continued to bolster an already impressive career resume. After four years at Duke from 2010-14, she was drafted by the Connecticut Suns and was later traded to the Los Angeles Sparks. Gray is now a WNBA champ, three-time All-Star and will be able to add Olympian to the list after this year. She already set the single season school record for assists (201) at Duke during her sophomore year, and heading into the 2021 WNBA season she was sitting at 15th on the all-time assists list. This will be the first time a Duke women's basketball player has played for the United States in the Olympics.  -Piazza

Kara Lawson, women’s basketball, United States

Lawson has been serving double duty as of late. She’s continued her job as head coach of the Duke women’s basketball team and will head to Tokyo as head coach of the United States women’s 3x3 basketball team. Lawson and her squad qualified for the Olympics in May after going 6-0 in the FIBA qualifying tournament in Graz, Austria. The former Celtics assistant coach will also be a part of NBC’s broadcasting crew as a basketball analyst. -Piazza

Elizabeth Balogun, women’s basketball, Nigeria

Balogun will be one of the newer faces on Duke’s campus this year, and the 20-year-old will be the youngest player on the court for Nigeria in the Olympics. She previously won ACC Freshman of the year in 2018-19 at Georgia Tech, and later transferred to Louisville before ending up at Duke this past offseason. Balogun spends most of her time at the 3, though she has proven she can slide down to the four in smaller lineups. -Piazza

Oderah Chidom, women’s basketball, Nigeria

Chidom was a captain in the final season of her four-year Duke career and taken by the Atlanta Dream in the 2017 NBA Draft. She thrived under the rim, and finished with the sixth most blocks all-time in Duke’s record books. Duke made it to three NCAA tournaments during her time in Durham and Chidom posted 12.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in four games. She is one of three 6-foot-4 players on Nigeria’s roster. -Piazza

Maddy Price, women’s track and field, Canada

Price is one of the most decorated sprinters in Blue Devil history, garnering All-America accolades as part of the indoor 4x400m relay, indoor distance medley relay and outdoor 4x400m relay. She also holds school records as part of the indoor 4x200m relay, indoor 4x400m relay and outdoor 4x200m relay in addition to top-five marks in several individual events as well. The 2018 Duke graduate—who currently serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Blue Devil track and field program—will compete in the 4x400m relay for Team Canada, her first appearance in an Olympic Games. -Evan Kolin

Kate Van Buskirk, women’s track and field, Canada

Van Buskirk left Duke in 2011 as one of the best distance runners in program history. She earned All-America honors in the indoor mile (for which she placed second overall at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships) and outdoor 1500m run. The Ontario native holds school records in the indoor and outdoor 4x800m relays, the outdoor distance medley relay, and the individual indoor mile and 1,000m runs. Van Buskirk  will compete in the 5000m run for Team Canada, which will mark her first Olympic appearance. -Kolin

Ashley Twichell, women’s swimming and diving, United States

Twichell has competed in international events for years, but now she can check Olympics off her to-do list. She’ll swim in the open water event and at 30 years old, will be the oldest first-time Olympic swimmer that the United States has had on its roster since 1908. The Fayetteville, N.Y., native spent most of her Duke days competing in the 1650-yard freestyle and ended her career with a fifth-place finish in the 2011 NCAA Championships in that event. -Piazza

Jahlil Okafor, men’s basketball, Nigeria

Okafor played at Duke during the 2014-15 championship season en route to becoming the third pick in the NBA draft. As a freshman, Okafor averaged 17.3 points along with 8.5 rebounds per game. One of the greatest big men in Duke's one-and-done era, the Chicago native became a bit of a journeyman in the NBA. He struggled initially with a meniscus injury, and has bounced around between Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New Orleans, and Detroit. Okafor will look to show off his game in Tokyo in his first Olympic experience for Team Nigeria. -Nithin Ragunathan

Jayson Tatum, men’s basketball, United States

After a stellar 2016-17 season in Durham, Tatum has become a bona fide star in the NBA. After selection as the third pick in the NBA draft,  the then-Boston Celtics rookie managed to play his team to a Game 7 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals without team star Kyrie Irving. In his fourth year, Tatum scored 26.4 points per game and had his signature playoff moment, notching 50 points in the playoffs against the loaded Brooklyn Nets. Tatum aims to return the gold back to his country after a rough start in exhibition play, during which the United States lost to Nigeria and Australia. -Ragunathan

Steven Solomon, men’s track and field, Australia

Solomon spent one season running for the Blue Devils after coming to Duke as a graduate transfer from Stanford in 2017-18. In that lone campaign, he earned All-America status in the indoor and outdoor 400m runs, setting still-standing school records in each. He also holds a third school record as part of the outdoor sprint medley relay. In 2012, Solomon represented Australia as a 19-year-old at the London Games, placing eighth in the 400m run. He missed qualifying for the 2016 Rio Games by one-tenth of a second, but will represent Australia in the 400m run in the Olympics again this summer. -Kolin

Leona Maguire, women’s golf, Ireland

Maguire graduated from Duke in 2018, but made sure to leave a legacy behind. During her time at Duke, the Cavan, Ireland native recorded the program's top three lowest single season stroke averages ever. Her lowest average was 70.29 during the 2016-17 season. Not only did she break records at Duke, but Maguire made NCAA history as well. The golfer owned the second-lowest stroke average (70.29) in the 2016-17 season and her 32 rounds in the 60s and her 87 rounds of even or under par were the most in NCAA history. Maguire is no newbie to the esteemed world championship, as she competed for her home country of Ireland in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She tied 21st overall with a total of 282 and will have an opportunity to exceed her ranking this summer. -Naseri

Celine Boutier, women’s golf, France

Boutier finished at Duke in 2016 ranking fifth in even or under par rounds, fifth in stroke average and fourth in rounds in the 60s. During her time at Duke, Boutier also competed in high level competitions during her summers—finishing tied for 56th in the British Open in the summer of 2013 and qualifying for the U.S. Open in the summers of 2014 and 2015. Since graduating, Boutier has placed in the top 10 at the U.S. Open in 2019 and was ranked in the Rolex Top 75 Rankings. This will be Boutier’s first Olympic appearance and she will be representing her home country of France. -Naseri

Jessica Springsteen, equestrian, United States 

Springsteen graduated from Duke in 2014 and although the University does not have a formal equestrian team, Springsteen has consistently trained and competed since she was four years old. The daughter of musicians Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa has an impressive racing history, winning the 2014 American Gold Cup and a five-star Grand Prix competition in 2016. Springsteen did not qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics but will be representing the United States in Tokyo this summer. -Naseri  

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


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