IOWA Magazine | 06-04-2024

Past and Present Hawkeyes Set Their Sights on Paris Olympics

7 minute read
Here are the Iowa athletes and alums to watch on the road to this year’s Summer Games.
Laulauga Tausaga PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Laulauga Tausaga, a former Hawkeye who won the USA’s first world title in women’s discus last year, plans to compete in late June at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Many student-athletes come to the University of Iowa to proudly represent the black and gold. Now several Hawkeyes past and present have the chance to contend for gold at the highest level in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Held July 26–Aug. 11 in Paris, the international competition gives athletes a chance to showcase their talents among the world’s best. While the national teams won’t be finalized in many sports until qualifying events later this summer, here are some Hawkeye hopefuls to watch for on the road to Paris.


Artistic Gymnastics

Cassie Lee

CASSIE LEE | incoming freshman | Canada

The future Hawkeye from Toronto, who represented her home country at the 2023 World Gymnastics Championships, won bronze with Team Canada at the 2023 Pan American Championships and Pan American Games. Team Canada announces the final spots on its Olympic gymnastics roster Friday, June 14.

PHOTO: STEPHEN MALLY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
Aurelie Tran

AURÉLIE TRAN | incoming freshman | Canada

The five-star Iowa commit from Quebec will compete in this summer’s Olympics after qualifying with a silver medal in the all-around at the 2024 Canadian Gymnastics Championships. At the national qualifier, she also earned silver on bars, beam, and floor and finished fifth on vault. At the 2023 Pan American Championships, Tran previously earned bronze with Team Canada and took home individual bronze medals on balance beam and in the all-around. She also represented Canada in the 2023 World Gymnastics Championships and earned a team bronze in the 2023 Pan American Games.

PHOTO COURTESY AURELIE TRAN
Sydney Turner

SYDNEY TURNER | incoming freshman | Canada

Turner, a future engineering major from the Vancouver area, made Canadian history as part of the group that earned the nation its first team medal—a bronze—in the 2022 World Gymnastics Championships. She also earned bronze on the uneven bars and with the team in the 2022 Pan American Championships. Along with Lee and Tran, she won team bronze at the 2023 Pan American Championships and Pan American Games. Most recently, Turner earned three more international medals at the 2024 Pan American Championships, including silver in the uneven bars and with Team Canada and a bronze for the balance beam. “I want to take my gymnastics as far as I possibly can,” Turner told Inside Gymnastics, “and to me, that’s competing at the Olympics.” The final Canadian gymnastics Olympic roster is announced Friday, June 14.

PHOTO COURTESY SYDNEY TURNER

Basketball

Megan Gustafson

MEGAN GUSTAFSON (19BBA) | 2015-19 | Spain

In February, weeks after signing with the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces, Gustafson helped secure a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games for the Spanish national team. The 2019 U.S. national player of the year, who has played overseas the past five years during the WNBA offseason, was granted Spanish citizenship earlier this year. “It’s definitely been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to play at the highest level,” Gustafson, who won a EuroCup championship this past spring with the London Lions, told Northern News Now. “Every four years, I would watch the Olympics with my family and the people in it that I’ve always looked up to and wanted to be like, so just to see that happening and realize a dream like that is really awesome.”

PHOTO: FIBA
Peter Jok

PETER JOK (23BS) | 2013-17 | South Sudan

The former Hawkeye All-American was part of the roster that helped the South Sudan national team advance to the Olympics for the first time in history by clinching Africa’s qualifying spot in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Jok, who holds Iowa’s single-season free throw percentage record, has played professional basketball in the NBA Summer League, NBA G League, and in Spain, France, and Canada. South Sudan’s final Olympic basketball roster will be decided by July 18 when the team plays its first pre-Olympic exhibition game against Great Britain.

PHOTO: FIBA
Tomi Taiwo

TOMI TAIWO (22BA) | 2018-22 | Nigeria

The former Iowa starter punched her ticket to the Olympics this February with the Nigerian national team. Taiwo, who plays professional basketball overseas, began her journey to the Olympics in May 2023 as the top 3-point shooter on Nigeria’s FIBA AfroBasket championship team. “It has been my goal since I was a freshman in college to represent Nigeria at the Olympics,” says Taiwo, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. “This motivated me to work hard on what I can bring to the floor, whether that’s my shooting ability, defensive skills, or providing high energy and effective communication on both ends of the court.”

PHOTO COURTESY TOMI TAIWO

Freestyle Wrestling

Spencer Lee PHOTO: MATTHEW O'HAREN/USA TODAY SPORTS Spencer Lee defeated 2020 Olympic bronze medalist and former Hawkeye Thomas Gilman in April at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials on the road to fulfilling a childhood dream.

SPENCER LEE (21BS) | 2017-23 | USA

The three-time NCAA champion will compete in the Paris Summer Olympics Aug. 8-9 in the 57-kilogram weight class. Lee, whose mother is from the host country of France, said to USA Wrestling following the event, “It’s great and all, but being an Olympian doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you come back with that prized gold medal.”


Eve Stewart

Rowing

EVE STEWART (20BA, 21BA) | 2016-20 | Great Britain

Once a three-time NCAA qualifier for Iowa rowing, Stewart will become the first Hawkeye to ever compete in rowing at the Summer Games as a member of Great Britain’s 2024 Olympic team. With the Great Britain national team, Stewart competed in the eight and four for the 2024 World Rowing Cup I and won a silver in the eight at the 2024 European Rowing Championships.

PHOTO COURTESY EVE STEWART

Track & Field

Brittany Brown PHOTO: STEPHEN MALLY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Former Iowa track star Brittany Brown competes in the 60-meter dash in January 2023 at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational at the UI Recreation Building in Iowa City.

BRITTANY BROWN (17BA) | 2014-18 | USA

Brown is training for the U.S. Olympic trials for track and field June 21-30 in Eugene, Oregon, after recently upsetting two-time and reigning world champion Shericka Jackson in the 200 meters at the 2024 Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway. Brown first commanded the international spotlight by winning silver in the 200-meter dash at the 2019 World Championships—bringing home Team USA’s first world medal in the women’s 200 since 2011. Last year, Brown also became a silver medalist in the 100-meter dash at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships and competed at the World Championships.

Jamal Brit

JAMAL BRITT | 2020-22 | USA

Britt competes in the 60 and 100-meter hurdles on the world stage and earned a silver medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2022 North American, Central American, and Caribbean Championships in the Bahamas. He has automatically qualified to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials June 21-30.

PHOTO COURTESY JAMAL BRIT
Chris Douglas

CHRIS DOUGLAS (19BS) | 2016-19 | Australia

Born in Australia, Douglas is the Oceanic record holder for the 60-meter hurdles and became a national champion this year in the 110-meter hurdles at the New South Wales Championships and Australian Athletics Championships. He previously contended to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles after placing first at the 2021 Australian Track and Field Championships.

PHOTO COURTESY HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
Austin Kresley

AUSTIN KRESLEY (24BS) | 2021-24 | Mexico

Kresley, a four-time All-American and the 2023 Big Ten outdoor 200-meter champion, has set school records in the outdoor 200-meters (20.26) and as part of a 4x100-meter relay (38.64). He plans to compete in Mexico’s national championships in hopes of making the Olympic team.

PHOTO: Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com
Paige Magee

PAIGE MAGEE (24BS) | 2020-24 | USA

Magee recently broke the school record for the 100-meter hurdles at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and her time of 12.88 seconds meets the U.S. Olympic trials qualifying standard. She’s also set school records in the 60-meter hurdles and as part of a 4x100-meter relay.

PHOTO COURTESY HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
Rivaldo Marshall

RIVALDO MARSHALL | student | Jamaica

The 2024 NCAA indoor 800-meter champion placed first in the outdoor 800-meter race this past April at the Jim Click Shootout and Multis in Tucson, Arizona. His time of 1:45.86 not only beat a school record, but also met the Olympic trials standard. Jamaica’s national championships June 27-30 will help determine its Olympic team.

PHOTO COURTESY HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
Laulauga Tausaga

LAULAUGA TAUSAGA (21BA) | 2017-21 | USA

In a stunning underdog performance last year in Budapest, Hungary, Tausaga improved her career-best throw by over 4 meters to become the first American woman to win the discus at the World Championships. The 2019 NCAA discus champion now awaits the U.S. Olympic trials for track and field June 21-30 in Eugene, Oregon.

PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
Reno Tuufuli

RENO TUUFULI (19BA) | 2015-19 | USA

Tuufuli, a 2019 Drake Relays champion who ranks second all-time for discus at Iowa, recently had one of the best throws of his career at the 2023 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.

PHOTO: BRIAN RAY/HAWKEYESPORTS.COM
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