Aug. 26, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - After 20 days of competition at the 2008 Olympic Games, Stanford athletes left Beijing with 25 medals, the greatest haul ever by the school's representatives at a single Olympics. The previous record was 21 medals, achieved at the 1924 Paris Games.
Out of 48 athletes representing eight countries, Stanford's largest Olympic contingent since the Atlanta Games of 1996, eight came home with the Games' greatest prize, a gold medal. Stanford athletes also accounted for 13 silver medals and four bronze medals. The gold medals were won in events ranging from aquatics to beach volleyball to the soccer pitch.
The many outstanding performances by Stanford athletes in Beijing included beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh `00, along with partner Misty May-Treanor, successfully defending the pair's 2004 gold medal with an undefeated run through the tournament that extended the duo's winning streak to an incredible 108 matches.
Gabe Gardner `00 and Kevin Hansen `04 were part of the U.S. men's volleyball team that made an emotionally-charged and unbeaten run to Olympic Gold, upsetting the world's two top-ranked teams, Russia and Brazil, in the final two matches of the tournament.
In the rowing lanes, a Stanford alumnus and a current student-athlete brought the gold home for their respective countries. Adam Kreek `06, rowing for Canada's men's eight, was part of a dominating gold-medal effort by the Canadian crew, while Elle Logan `10, rowing with the U.S. women's eight, helped the American boat to its first gold since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Recaps of the Stanford athletes' performances in Beijing...
In Baseball action
One of the best hitters to ever wear a Stanford uniform, outfielder John Gall '00 led Team USA to a bronze medal in the final Olympic baseball competition. Gall started eight of the nine games in Beijing, batting .242 (8-for-33) while hammering one of Team USA's 10 home runs, tying for second on the club with four doubles and tying for third with five RBI.
After a rough start in which it dropped two of its first three games in the final at-bat, Team USA rallied to win five of its last six contests and finish Olympic play at 6-3. Included in that run was a 4-2 victory over Chinese-Taipei that clinched a berth in the medal round, a game in which Gall snapped a 1-1, sixth-inning tie with a solo home run.
Team USA's medal-winning run culminated in an 8-4, comeback win over Japan in the bronze medal game.
Johnny Dawkins and the rest of Team USA captured Olympic gold for the first time since 2000 in Sydney, as the Americans defeated Spain 118-107 in the championship contest. Team USA was dominant throughout the Games, posting an 8-0 mark and winning by an average of 27.9 points per game.
Dawkins was serving in his final season as Player Personnel Director for the USA Basketball Senior National Team.
New Zealand, featuring Jillian Harmon `09 and alumnae Clare Bodensteiner `06, finished Group B play with a 1-4 record and failed to advance to the knockout round. Harmon started all five contests for New Zealand, finishing the Olympic Tournament with 11.4 points a game while shooting 43.4% from the field. She also led the Tall Ferns with 6.2 rebounds a game.
Bodensteiner averaged 0.6 points and 0.4 rebounds a game while seeing action in all five contests.
Kerri Walsh '00 and partner Misty May-Treanor made a dominating run through the women's beach tournament to become the first beach team, men or women, to defend a gold medal. The pair never lost a set in seven matches and defeated the top-seeded Chinese team in front of its home crowd, 21-18, 21-18, to claim the gold. Walsh sealed the gold with a kill right down the center, clinching her 100th career tournament win and the pair's 108th consecutive victory.
Christine Thorburn, who earned her master's degree in 2002, participated in the women's road race and individual time trials at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In the women's road race, Thorburn clocked in with a time of 3:41.08 to finish 52nd overall. The race was contested during a steady downpour that translated into slick road conditions throughout the course. Three separate crashes occurred during the race, which featured 66 participants starting in downtown Beijing and biking 78 kilometers to Juyongguan in Changping County. From there competitors navigated through two hilly, 23.8-kilomter circuits between Juyongguan and the Badaling section of the Great Wall.
Three days later in the 14.6-mile individual time trials, Thorburn finished fifth with a time of 34:51.72 and clocked in at +1:02.44 behind gold medalist Kristin Armstrong of the United States. Thorbum finished fourth in the same event in 2004 at Athens.
Kreek and the Canadian Men's Eight, burning for redemption after coming into the Athens Games as the favorite four years ago only to finish fifth, showed its fire with a 7.26-second victory in its qualifying heat last Monday. With six days off until the final, Canada rested up and returned to Shunyi Rowing-Canoeing Park Sunday, leading the final from start to finish and clocking a gold medal-winning time of 5:23.89, nearly a second and a half ahead of runner-up Great Britain and the third-place United States boat.
Jamie Schroeder `05 and the U.S. men's quad sculls boat, meanwhile, qualified for the semifinals with a third-place time of 5:45.77 in its opening heat. There, the U.S. boat finished second with a time of 5:52.81 to qualify for Final A. In the medal final, the U.S. got off the line sixth and could only manage to gain one spot over the 2,000-meter course, finishing fifth with a time of 5:47.64.
David Banks `05, rowing with the U.S. men's four had his boat finish ninth in the Olympic competition. Banks and the men's four finished third in Final B with a time of 6:07.17. Previously in the competition, the men's four advanced to the semifinal with a third-place finish in the first heat, clocking a time of 6:03.96. Yet in the semifinal, the U.S. could not advance to Final A, finishing fifth with a time of 5:57.52, just 0.79 seconds back of the third-place French boat which grabbed the final qualifying spot for Final A in a furious finish.
Logan, participating in her first Olympic Games, helped the U.S. women's eight to its first gold medal since 1984. The U.S. captured the opening heat on Aug. 11 in a time of 6:06.53, 2.15 seconds faster than Great Britain. The victory propelled the U.S. into Final A, where six days later, the American boat raced out to the early lead and never yielded, going wire-to-wire in a gold medal-winning time of 6:05.34 to defeat runner-up the Netherlands by 1.88 seconds and defending Olympic champion Romania by 1.91 seconds.
Meyer, in her Olympic debut, and the U.S. women's quad sculls battled into Final A the hard way, taking second in the repechage with a time of 6:39.53 after finishing third in its opening heat. In Final A, the boat took fifth, clocking a final time of 6:25.86.
Kolker, with partner Zoe Hoskins making up Canada's women's pair, finished third in Final B, with a time of 7:37.27. The boat had been found to be underweight in its opening heat, and in the repechage, finished fourth with a time of 7:40.22, failing to reach Final A.
Simon Elliott '99 and Ryan Nelsen '01 played on the first New Zealand men's soccer team to reach the Olympics, though the team did not emerge from group play. Elliott and Nelsen were two of the three team's three overage players allowed in an otherwise under-23 event.
Elliott, a midfielder, played every minute of New Zealand's three matches, but couldn't prevent his team from finishing 0-2-1, which placed it last in its four-team group. New Zealand needed to beat Belgium in their final Group C match to advance to the quarterfinals, but lost, 1-0.
Nelsen was elected captain by his teammates despite knowing that he would be available only for New Zealand's first two matches. Nelsen, also captain of the Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League, had been allowed by his club to participate only if he returned in time to prepare for Blackburn's season-opener.
New Zealand drew with China, 1-1, and lost to Brazil, 5-0, with Nelsen on the backline. But despite efforts to remain with the Olympic team, Nelsen rejoined his club on schedule and missed New Zealand's final match.
The Unites States repeated as gold medalists, defeating Brazil 1-0 in the gold-medal match. Stanford alumni Rachel Buehler ('07) and Nicole Barnhart ('05) each earned the first Olympic medal of their career.
Buehler played 97 minutes for the U.S. in Beijing, helping the Americans hold their opponents scoreless in each of her two appearances. She closed out the final seven minutes in a 1-0 victory over Japan early in group play, and started and played the entire must-win match against New Zealand, which the Americans won 4-0 to capture Group G's top spot heading into the quarterfinals. Buehler earned her first career point with the senior women's team against the Kiwis, assisting on Amy Rodriguez' goal, the Americans' second of the game. Barnhart, the Americans' backup goalkeeper, did not see any game action.
Current Stanford junior Ali Riley also competed in Beijing with New Zealand Women's National Team. Riley started and played the full-90 in all three of New Zealand's matches in Beijing and assisted on the Football Ferns' opening goal of the Games in a 2-2 draw with Japan. The Kiwis did not advance out of group play after falling to both Norway and the United States.
Under the guidance of coach John Rittman, former Stanford players Jessica Mendoza '02 and Lauren Lappin '06 helped Team USA to a silver medal at the 2008 Games. The squad won its first eight games of the tournament, most by considerable margins, and outscored opponents 58-5 over the nine games, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Japan in the gold medal game. Mendoza started every game in left field and went 8-for-24 (.333) with two doubles, four homeruns and nine RBI. Lappin appeared in five games, and was 1-for-4 (.250) at the plate.
Ben Wildman-Tobriner won the first Olympic Gold Medal of the Olympics for Stanford for his role in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Wildman-Tobriner took part in the prelims of the event for an American team that set the World Record with a time of 3:12.23. Wildman-Tobriner did not participate in the final, but was assured Olympic Gold when his teammates bettered the world record to 23453 en route to claiming the title. Wildman-Tobriner also advanced to the final of the 50-meter freestyle, where he finished fifth with a time of 21.64 seconds and was the top American.
Also swimming in finals for Stanford were Jason Dunford in the 100-meter butterfly and Markus Rogan in the 200-meter backstroke. Rogan finished just out of the medals when he took fourth with a time of 1:55.49. Dunford, who briefly held the Olympic Record in the 100-meter butterfly (51.14 seconds) in the opening rounds, finished fifth in the final with a time of 51.47 seconds.
Also competing and advancing to semifinals were Rogan in the 100-meter backstroke and Tobias Oriwol, who advanced to the semifinals in the 200-meter backstroke before being eliminated after swimming a time of 1:59.50.
A pair of Stanford women's swimmers combined to win three relay medals in Beijing, as Elaine Breeden won silver in the 4x100 meter medley relay while Julia Smit captured silver in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay and bronze in the 4x200 meter free relay.
Breeden swam a trio of events in her first Olympics, and earned a silver medal for her role in the preliminaries of the 4 x 100 meter medley relay. After posting a time of 58.59 seconds in her leg of the Americans' heat-winning time, she was awarded her first Olympic medal after the U.S. foursome finished second in the event finals. The medal further cemented Breeden's place among America's top butterfly talents, after she was the top American finisher in the 200 meter fly with a time of 2:07.57. She also ranked among the 16 best in the world in the 100 meter fly, advancing to the semifinals and finishing second only to eventual silver medalist Christine Magnuson among U.S. swimmers.
Smit was Stanford's only double medalist, helping the U.S. team to the podium in the two freestyle relay events - 4x100 and 4x200 meters. Although she did not participate in either event final, she swam key legs in both preliminaries. Smit helped the U.S. to the third seed in the 4 x 100 relay with a time of 54.73, while she swam the anchor leg of the 4 x 200 relay as the Americans posted a heat-winning time of 7:52.43. A two-time Olympic medalist and the only swimmer at the Olympic Trials to finish in the top six in both the 100 and 200 free, Smit has earned a place among the country's elite.
Former Stanford tennis standouts, twin brother Bob and Mike Bryan ('98), competed in men's doubles. The 2008 Beijing Games marked the second Olympics for the twins, who also played together at Athens 2004, where they fell in the quarterfinals. In China, the brothers finally got a piece of hardware that has eluded them in their professional career, an Olympic medal, winning bronze over the French pair of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 3-6,6-3,6-4, after falling to the eventual gold medalist Swiss pair of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals.
Track & Field
The top Cardinal finishers were Ryan Hall in the men's marathon and Jillian Camarena in the women's shot put. Hall battled the tough conditions that included high temperatures and smog through downtown Beijing to finish 10th in the marathon with a time of 2:12.33. He and U.S. teammate, Dathan Ritzenheim (ninth) became the first American duo to place in the top-10 since 1976. Camarena qualified through to the finals of the shot put where she placed 12th. In the final she recorded a toss of 59-110 ¼ to finish as the top American in the competition.
Also competing for Stanford were Leila Ben-Youssef in the pole vault, Ian Dobson in the 5,000 meters, Arantxa King in the long jump, Erica McLain in the triple jump, and Michael Robertson in the discus. Each of these five athletes competed in the prelims of their events, but failed to qualify for the finals.
Hansen served as a backup to veteran setter Lloy Ball. Hansen played in all five preliminary matches, and started against China while Ball rested an injured calf muscle. Hansen combined for 39 assists, six digs, two kills and an ace. Against China, Hansen had 20 assists, three digs, two kills and an ace. He did not play in the tournament's knockout stages.
Gardner, an opposite hitter, played in two matches during group play, combining for six kills. Four of his kills came in a sweep of Japan, during which Gardner contributed two digs and a block. Gardner, 32, also brought veteran leadership, having played for the national team since 1999, and been on two Olympic teams.
Logan Tom '03, Ogonna Nnamani '05 and Team USA finished the 2008 Games with a 6-2 record, and pulled off a pair stunning upsets of No. 2 Italy and No. 3 Cuba to advance to the team's first gold medal match in 24 years. The squad fell to Brazil to take the silver, matching the highest finish ever for the U.S. and capturing just its third all-time medal in women's indoor volleyball. In her third Olympics, Tom was the top offensive player for Team USA, leading the team in kills (96), blocks (19), aces (9) and points (124). Nnamani appeared in five of the eight matches as a substitute, and was the team's second-leading scorer in a crucial five-set win over Poland. Nnamani finished the tournament with 16 kills, three blocks and three aces.
In Men's Water Polo action...
The United States, helped greatly by the solid performances of Stanford's quartet of Tony Azevedo `05, Layne Beaubien `99, Peter Hudnut `03, and Peter Varellas `06, captured silver and made an improbable run to the Olympic final for the first time since 1988. The U.S., which entered the Olympics as the ninth-ranked team in the world, scored upsets over such teams as Italy, Serbia, and No. 1 Croatia on its way to the final.
Azevedo, the U.S. captain making his third Olympic appearance, led the team and ranked fourth among all players with 17 goals in the tournament. His performances included five goals in the opener against China, three goals in the 10-5 semifinal victory over Serbia, then four goals in the final against Hungary.
At the Olympics, Beaubien netted eight goals while anchoring the two-meter spot for the U.S. The former Stanford All-American scored twice in the 8-4 tournament-opening victory over China, and added a pair of goals in both U.S. medal-round games, a 10-5 win against Serbia and the 14-10 gold-medal game loss to Hungary.
Making his Olympic debut in Beijing, Hudnut saw action in all seven U.S. contests. He scored his first Olympic goal in the American side's 12-11 preliminary-round upset of Italy, and was a strong defensive presence in the pool for the U.S. during its improbable silver-medal run in the tournament.
The youngest of the Stanford contingent on the U.S. team, Varellas had an impressive debut showing in the silver-medal run of the U.S. team. He assisted on four goals in the 12-11 upset of Italy in the preliminary round, and accounted for both U.S. goals in a 4-2 preliminary-round loss to Serbia. Varellas would add three more goals in the tournament to bring his total haul to five, scoring once in the 7-5 upset of Croatia, and once each in the medal-round games against Serbia and Hungary.
Women's Water Polo
Three Stanford players came home with Olympic Silver medals, as the U.S. advanced to the final for the second time out of the three Olympic women's water polo tournaments.
Brenda Villa `03, captain of the U.S. team and making her third Olympic appearance, finished second on the U.S. and tied for tenth overall among all players with nine goals in the tournament. She turned in three multi-goal games, as in addition to a hat trick against Australia in the semifinals, Villa also scored a pair of goals against both Italy and Russia.
In Beijing, Alison Gregorka `07 shone in the Olympic tournament, scoring five goals over the five U.S. contests. Her performances included a pair of goals in the 12-7 preliminary-round victory over Russia, and a goal against both Australia in the semifinals and the Netherlands in the gold-medal final. Her performance was one of many that helped lead the U.S. to the silver medal in the tournament.
In her Olympic debut, Jessica Steffens `09 totaled five goals, as the U.S. claimed the silver medal in Beijing. After scoring a goal in each of the two final preliminary-round victories as well as the semifinal win over Australia, Steffens netted a pair of scores in the gold-medal final opposite the Netherlands.
Matt Gentry '05 became the first male Stanford wrestler to compete in the Olympic Games, wrestling for Canada at 74 kg freestyle. Gentry drew a bye in the qualifications to advance to the round of 16, where, despite winning the first period, he fell to Emzarios Bentinidis of Greece, 0-1, 2-0, 2-0.
Stanford 2008 Medalists
Nicole Barnhart, Women's Soccer
Rachel Buehler, Women's Soccer
Gabe Gardner, Men's Volleyball
Kevin Hansen, Men's Volleyball
Adam Kreek (Canada), Rowing-Men's Eight
Elle Logan, Rowing-Women's Eight
Kerri Walsh, Women's Beach Volleyball
Ben Wildman-Tobriner, Swimming-Men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay
Tony Azevedo, Men's Water Polo
Layne Beaubien, Men's Water Polo
Peter Hudnut, Men's Water Polo
Peter Varellas, Men's Water Polo
Elaine Breeden, Swimming-Women's 4x100-meter medley relay
Alison Gregorka, Women's Water Polo
Jessica Steffens, Women's Water Polo
Brenda Villa, Women's Water Polo
Lauren Lappin, Softball
Jessica Mendoza, Softball
Ogonna Nnamani, Women's Volleyball
Logan Tom, Women's Volleyball
Julia Smit, Swimming-Women's 4x100-meter freestyle relay; Bronze, 4x200-meter freestyle relay