Going for gold
BETWEEN 1976 AND 2020, 13 VIRGINIA TECH Tech students, alumi, and staff earned the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games. Seven qualified this year for the 2020 Olympics, which were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic and held July 23-Aug. 8, in Tokyo, Japan.
Men’s swimmers, including Ian Ho ’18 and current students Antani Ivanov and Youssef Ramadan, qualified for the Games, along with men’s golfer Scott Vincent ’15. Also, incoming women’s track and field student-athlete Barbora Malikova and Irena Gillarova, a javelin thrower from the Czech Republic and two-time national champion in the event at Virginia Tech, competed in Tokyo.
Marcel Lomnicky ’13 became Virginia Tech’s first three-time Olympian when he earned a spot on the 2020 Slovakian men’s track and field team. Lomnicky, a two-time national champion while at Virginia Tech, competed in the hammer throw at the Games in 2012 and 2016.
Ho competed in the 50-meter freestyle for Hong Kong, while Ivanov competed in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly for Bulgaria. Ramadan swam the 100-meter butterfly for Egypt.
Vincent played for the Zimbabwe national team and became the first Virginia Tech golfer to qualify for an Olympics.
Here’s a look back at some of the Hokies who’ve been a part of Olympic history.
Todd Scully, a one-time coach of Tech’s cross country team, is Virginia Tech’s first known Olympic athlete. He served as an alternate on the U.S. Olympic race-walking team in 1972 and competed in 1976. In 1980, he was a Tech graduate student when he again was selected for the Olympic team, but the U.S. boycotted the games that year, so technically he never competed while studying at Tech.
Bimbo Coles ’90 was the first Hokie to medal in an Olympic event. The all-time leading scorer in Virginia Tech men’s basketball history, Coles led the U.S. men’s basketball team to a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Kristi Castlin ’10, a seven-time All-American at Virginia Tech and a three-time NCAA silver medalist, won a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles in 2016. She became the first current or former female Virginia Tech athlete to win an Olympic medal.
Cleopatra Borel-Brown ’08, a former volunteer coach with the Virginia Tech track and field teams, threw the shot put for Trinidad and Tobago in 2008 and again in 2016.
Nare Diawara ’07 made the 2008 Mali women’s basketball national team, but she did not play because of an injury. Carmen Farmer ’03, a former Virginia Tech softball standout, picked up rugby and went on to qualify for the U.S. rugby Sevens team that finished fifth in Brazil in 2016.
Katarina Filova ’14 made the Slovakian national women’s swimming and diving team and competed in two events at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.
Queen Harrison ’10, a three-time national champion hurdler while at Virginia Tech, competed in the 400-meter hurdles in 2008.
Ieva Kublina made the Latvian national women’s basketball team in 2008. Norbert Szabo ’20 qualified for the 2016 Hungarian national men’s swimming and diving team.
Kaan Tayla ’10 competed for his native country of Turkey, qualifying for the national men’s swimming and diving team in 2004 and 2008.
Darrell Wesh ’15 qualified for the 2016 Haitian national men’s track and field team.