If you like cheering for hometown athletes -- or former Ducks, Zags or Huskies -- you're in luck when the Summer Olympics start in less than a week. The team rosters for the USA and a bunch of foreign countries are chockablock with athletes with Pacific Northwest ties.
By our count, 49 U.S. Olympians have strong connections to Oregon or Washington. At least 52 more athletes are at the Olympics representing foreign countries after starring for universities or turning pro in the Northwest.
The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony is happening Friday, July 23, almost exactly one year later than originally planned due to the pandemic. The games, still branded Tokyo 2020, run through August 8. The International Olympic Committee and Japanese government are proceeding with these games in spite of persistent calls to cancel them coming from worried citizens of the largely unvaccinated host nation.
The athletic contingent with Northwest ties is headlined by two Olympic veterans. In women's basketball, the Seattle Storm's Sue Bird is chasing her fifth straight gold medal. In fencing, Mariel Zagunis of Beaverton is also at her fifth Olympics, looking to add to the two golds and two bronze medals she already has.
There will be no family and friends in the stands cheering them on because Japan banned nearly all spectators at the Olympics as a COVID-19 pandemic precaution. Weightlifter and first-time Olympian Harrison Maurus of Auburn, Washington, said it was nice that the USA Weightlifting federation invited family members to the team's training camp location in Hawaii to view the games together from there.
"Really that's been good for my training to know that they'll still be able to follow me through the end of my journey and support me to the end," Maurus said during a team media briefing.
U.S. women's Olympic soccer players said the absence of their supporters in the stands was incredibly sad. But they added the impact was greater on their families than on the athletes themselves who are in many ways walled off and in an all business mindset during world competitions.
"Going to these events, business is first and foremost," said Crystal Dunn, who plays for the NWSL's Portland Thorns when not with the national team. "Our families are there to support us, but they are usually having a grand old time without us."
The U.S. women's team is a gold medal favorite going into the delayed Tokyo Games. Besides Dunn, the national team roster includes three other Portland Thorns players — Adrianna Franch, Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn — along with two stars from the Tacoma/Seattle-based OL Reign, Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle.
Another strong medal contender from the Northwest is 19-year-old canoeist Nevin Harrison of Seattle. Harrison has a chance to win the first Olympic gold medal by a female in her event, solo canoe sprint. Women's canoe racing is on the Olympic program for the first time as part of a push for gender parity at the games.
Oregon born and raised shot putter Ryan Crouser also carries gold medal hopes on his broad shoulders. The product of Barlow High School in Gresham set a new world record in shot put on the opening day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene last month.
"There's been a lot of improvising, adapting and overcoming this year," said Crouser after making his second Olympic team. "It's been such a difficult year — not only for me, but for so many people around the world — it was a really special moment for me and all the guys."
Two days after Crouser heaves the shot in Tokyo, track and field fans could be at the edge of their seats again for a showdown between current and former stars from the University of Oregon. Now a Portland-based pro runner, Matthew Centrowitz arrives in Tokyo as the defending Olympic champion in the men's 1500 meters. He not only has to defeat international challengers to repeat as gold medalist, but also an UO up-and-comer. Oregon Duck sophomore phenom Cole Hocker edged out Centrowitz at the finish line at last month's Olympic trials.
The success of the University of Oregon running program in minting future Olympians is perhaps rivaled only by the storied University of Washington crew team. The UW rowing program placed five graduates in Team USA boats for the Tokyo Games. Another eleven Husky crew alumni are competing in Tokyo for foreign countries including Australia, Italy, Great Britain, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
The Tokyo Games will see the debut of several new Olympic sports, which were added to the program partly to appeal to younger eyeballs and sensibilities. They are skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, surfing and 3-on-3 basketball.
The half court, 3-on-3 basketball tournament features two noteworthy players with local connections. The U.S. women's squad includes former University of Washington star Kelsey Plum. The Japanese men's squad includes U.S.-born, ex-Gonzaga Bulldog Ira Brown, who is now a naturalized Japanese citizen. Seattle Storm forward Katie Lou Samuelson was nominated for the women's team alongside Plum but had to withdraw Monday because she tested positive for COVID-19 at a pre-Olympic training camp in Las Vegas.
Here's a complete list of all of the Tokyo 2020 Olympians with Pacific Northwest connections, beginning with Team USA athletes to watch in Tokyo, organized alphabetically by sport:
- Eric Filia (outfielder) This 2016 draft pick by the Seattle Mariners has labored in the minor leagues for five years, now with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers. A breakthrough performance in the Tokyo Olympics could open the door for Filia's first call up to the majors.
- Scott McGough (pitcher) This former University of Oregon pitcher is participating in the Olympics in a familiar setting. He's currently a reliever for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese pro baseball league.
- Sue Bird (women's basketball) The Seattle Storm star is going for her fifth straight Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. At age 40, this is probably Bird's last Olympics. She plays point guard.
- Jerami Grant (men's basketball) The 27-year-old Detroit Pistons forward was born in Portland and still lists the Rose City as his hometown. He is a first-time Olympian.
- Zach LaVine (men's basketball) Raised in Washington state, the Bothell High School grad was once named the state's top high school player. He played for UCLA briefly in college before moving on to the NBA where he now stars for the Chicago Bulls.
- Damian Lillard (men's basketball) The Portland Trailblazers star is shaping up to be a key contributor on the U.S. Olympic team stocked with other All-Stars.
- Jewell Loyd (women's basketball) The Seattle Storm starter is a first time Olympian and usually partners with teammate Bird at guard.
- Kelsey Plum (3x3 basketball) This former UW star now plays for WNBA Las Vegas Aces.
- Breanna Stewart (women's basketball) The 2020 WNBA MVP with the Seattle Storm is chasing her second Olympic gold medal. She plays power forward.
- Nevin Harrison (sprint canoe) This Seattle native graduated last year from Roosevelt High School. She trained for the past year in Georgia at the 1996 Olympic flatwater canoe/kayak venue.
- Adrian Hegyvary (track cycling) Raised in Seattle, he began racing seriously while attending the University of Washington. Hegyvary has been a pro cyclist since 2010.
- Katrina Young (10-meter board) This Shoreline, Washington, native is in the Olympics for a second time. At the Rio Games in 2016, she finished 13th in the individual, 10-meter event. Her grandmother was a 1948 Olympian in track and field for Canada.
- Adrienne Lyle (dressage) Born and raised on Whidbey Island, Washington. The 36-year-old now lives and trains in Florida. Tokyo will be her second Olympics, having previously competed at the 2012 Olympics in London.
- Mariel Zagunis (sabre) This Beaverton, Oregon, native already has four Olympic medals to her name dating back to a gold captured in the inaugural women's sabre competition at the 2004 Athens Games. Zagunis was chosen by her fellow athletes to carry the U.S. flag at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Games.
- Jade Carey (individual vault, all-around) Carey clinched a spot on Team USA even before this year's U.S. Olympic Trials with her success in international competition as a vault specialist. The Oregon State University signee attended her freshman year of classes remotely from her home in Phoenix because of the pandemic.
- Jordan Chiles (team event) Born in Tualatin, Oregon, and brought up in Vancouver, Washington, where she graduated from Prairie High School. The 20-year-old relocated from Vancouver last year to Spring, Texas, to train with teammate Simone Biles at the Biles family gym.
- Ben Davison (men's eight) A 2019 University of Washington grad who rowed crew for the Huskies.
- Katelin (Snyder) Guregian (coxswain) This 2009 UW grad and Husky crew alum is now a two-time Olympian. Guregian previously earned a gold medal in the women's eight at the 2016 Rio Games.
- Megan Kalmoe (women's pairs) This is the fourth Olympic Games for this 2006 UW grad and Husky crew alum. She raced double sculls in Beijing 2008... switched to quad sculls in London 2012, capturing the bronze medal... and continued with quad sculls in 2016 in Rio, where she finished fifth.
- Brooke Mooney (women's eight) A 2018 UW graduate and Husky crew alum.
- Jessica Thoennes (women's eight) Another 2018 UW grad who rowed for the Husky crew team.
- Crystal Dunn (defender) In her first season as a Portland Thorns player, Dunn makes her second Olympic team.
- Adrianna Franch (backup goalkeeper) The Portland Thorns goalie makes her first Olympic team.
- Tobin Heath (midfielder) This former, longtime Portland Thorns player recently recovered from a knee injury to make her fourth Olympic team. She has two Olympic golds from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
- Lindsey Horan (midfielder) The Portland Thorns veteran is going to her second Olympics.
- Rose Lavelle (midfielder) New this season to Tacoma/Seattle-based OL Reign and a first-time Olympian.
- Megan Rapinoe (forward) The University of Portland grad and OL Reign star is now a three-time Olympian ('12, '16, '20) and one half of a Seattle sports power couple with fiancee Sue Bird, the basketball Olympian.
- Becky Sauerbrunn (defender) This Portland Thorns stalwart, 35, was named the national team captain earlier this year. Sauerbrunn has a gold medal from the 2012 London Games.
- Ali Aguilar (infielder) The 2017 University of Washington grad starred on the diamond for the Huskies. She is originally from California.
- Janie (Takeda) Reed (outfielder) This 2015 University of Oregon grad moved directly from her final season with the Ducks to the U.S. national team. She has waited six years for softball to return to the Olympic stage.
Track and Field:
- Devon Allen (110m hurdles) This former Oregon Duck track and football speedster is making a second go-round at the Olympics this year after making it to the finals in Rio. He finished in second place at the 2021 Olympic team trials.
- Matthew Centrowitz (1500m) The defending Olympic gold medalist from 2016 in the 1500 meters now trains with the Bowerman Track Club in Portland. "Centro" set aside his Oregon Duck alumni pride to serve as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Washington in 2018-19.
- Elise Cranny (5000m) The decision by Nike's Bowerman Track Club leadership to recruit Cranny out of Stanford for their Portland-based pro team was validated by a first place finish in the 5K at this year's Olympic trials.
- Ryan Crouser (shot put) The 2016 Olympic gold medalist was raised in Oregon and graduated from Barlow High School in Gresham. He now lives in Fayetteville, where he coaches track & field at the University of Arkansas.
- Grant Fisher (5000m & 10,000m) Fisher qualified for not one, but two Olympic distance events with top three finishes amid the sweltering heat in Eugene during last month's Olympic trials. He competes professionally for the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club and lives in Portland.
- Courtney Frerichs (steeplechase) Frerichs is looking to improve on her 11th place finish in the steeplechase at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She trains with the Bowerman Track Club in Portland.
- English Gardner (100m) This former Oregon Duck standout recovered from a difficult bout with COVID-19 earlier this year to finish sixth in the Olympic trials sprint, good enough to be added to the 4x100m relay pool.
- Cravon Gillespie (100m) This former Oregon Duck sprinter left the University of Oregon in 2019. He returned to Hayward Field last month and finished sixth at the Olympic team trials, good enough to be added to the 4x100 relay pool.
- Cole Hocker (1500m) The 20-year-old Oregon Duck sophomore phenom benefited from the one year delay in staging the Tokyo Games. The extra seasoning provided by his freshman collegiate year propelled him to a top finish in the metric mile at the Olympic team trials.
- Woody Kinkaid (5000m & 10,000m) This Portland-based Bowerman Track Club pro runner won the Olympic Trials 10K with an incredible closing sprint. Days later he qualified for a second event at the Tokyo Games by finishing in the top three of the 5000 meters at the trials.
- Sally Kipyego (marathon) Became a U.S. citizen in 2017 and now trains with Oregon Track Club Elite while living in Eugene. Kipyego previously competed for Kenya at the London Games in 2012.
- Jenna Prandini (100m & 200m) This former Oregon Duck standout and 2016 Olympian finished fourth in the 100 meters at last month's Olympic team trials, but was selected for the team following the suspension of top finisher Sha'Carri Richardson. Prandini also qualified in the 200 meters with a second place finish at the Olympic trials.
- Raevyn Rodgers (800m) A six-time national champion while competing for the University of Oregon, Rodgers moved her training base to Portland ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to train under Nike coach Pete Julian.
- Galen Rupp (marathon) Tokyo will be the fourth Olympics for this Portland native and University of Oregon grad. Rupp won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Games, to complement the silver he won in the 10,000 meters on the track in London in 2012.
- Karissa Schweizer (5000m & 10,000m) Schweizer relocated from the Midwest to Portland in 2018 to join the Nike-sponsored Bowerman Track Club. At the Tokyo Games, the finals of the 5K and 10K are scheduled five days apart making it possible for a strong athlete to compete in both.
- Micah Williams (100m) This 19-year-old University of Oregon rising freshman placed fifth at the Olympic team trials, qualifying him for the 4x100 relay pool for the Tokyo Games. He was a standout sprinter for Benson High School (Portland) before college.
- Kara Winger (javelin) Born in Seattle and raised in Vancouver, Washington, this Skyview High School grad is going to her fourth Olympics. She now trains in Colorado and California.
- Kim Hill (outside hitter) Hill was raised in Portland and graduated from Portland Christian High School. She has been a member of the U.S. national team since 2013.
- Harrison Maurus (81kg class) This 21-year-old heavy lifter from Auburn, Washington, is realizing an Olympic dream that was nearly ten years in the making since he quit gymnastics and took up power lifting.
Foreign Olympians with NW ties:
- Isobel "Izzi" Batt-Doyle (5000m) This 2019 University of Washington grad is a former Husky teammate of Great Britain's Amy-Eloise Markovc, who could be drawn into same Olympic heat of the 5000 meters when track and field begins.
- Aron Baynes (basketball) Tokyo will be the third Olympics for this Washington State University alum, after playing in Rio in 2016 and London in 2012. He plays professionally for the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
- Jessica Hull (1500m & 5000m) This former Oregon Duck now trains in Portland with a Nike-sponsored group coached by Pete Julian. The 23-year-old is the current Australian record holder in the 5000 meters.
- Charlie Hunter (800m) Hunter drew notice in his native Australia with his breakout indoor track season in 2019-20 for the Oregon Ducks. He is a redshirt junior on the Eugene campus.
- Ezi Magbegor (basketball) The 6-4 ft. Seattle Storm backup center followed her idol, Lauren Jackson, from Australia to the WNBA title winning team in Seattle. Magbegor is making her Olympic debut in Tokyo.
- Leilani Mitchell (basketball) She was born in Richland, Washington, and starred at Kennewick High School, which earned her a scholarship to play at the University of Idaho. Mitchell, 36, now plays guard for the WNBA's Washington Mystics. She has an American father and an Australian mother, which qualified her to play for the Aussies.
- Gabbie Plain (softball) This recent University of Washington grad was the fastest Husky pitcher to achieve 50 wins. She is a Sydney native.
- Stuart Sim (rowing) This 2017 University of Washington grad and crew team alum is making his Olympic debut as coxswain of the Aussie men's eight.
- Stephanie Talbot (basketball) Now a two-time Olympian, Talbot splits her years between the WNBA and the Australian pro basketball league. The Aussie citizen was signed by the Seattle Storm as a forward early this year.
- Matisse Thybulle (basketball) The former University of Washington star and Eastside Catholic (Bellevue) product lived in Sydney for about seven years as a youngster before relocating to the Seattle suburbs.
- Pat Tiernan (10,000 meters) Trains in Eugene with Oregon Track Club Elite. He competed in the 5000 meters at the 2016 Rio Games.
- Nijel Amos (800m) Trains in Eugene with Oregon Track Club Elite. Amos captured the silver medal in the half-mile at the 2012 London Games.
- Angelina (women's soccer) This 20-year-old Brazilian-American signed a three-year contract with the OL Reign early this year. She plays in the midfield.
- Moh Ahmed (5000m & 10000m) Now a three-time Olympian who trains with the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club. In 2012, Ahmed raced in the 10,000 meters in London; he finished in fourth place in the 5,000 meter final at the Rio Games in 2016.
- Will Crothers (rowing) Graduated from the University of Washington in 2009 with a degree in geography. This Husky crew alum is headed to his third Olympics. He was part of the silver-winning Canadian eight in 2012. In Tokyo, he'll compete in the men's pair.
- Gabriela Debues-Stafford (1500m) Stafford moved to Portland to join the elite training group of the Bowerman Track Club last year.
- Victoria Hayward (softball) Hayward played in the outfield for the University of Washington Huskies from 2011 to 2014. She was the youngest player to appear on the Canadian national team when she first joined them in 2009 at age 16.
- Danielle Lawrie (softball) The University of Washington Husky Hall of Fame pitcher hails from Langley, British Columbia. She was a 2008 Olympian, the last time softball was in the Summer Games until this year.
- Conlin McCabe (rowing) Won three NCAA championships while rowing with the UW Husky crew. Graduated in 2013 with a degree in geography. He was also part of the silver-winning Canadian eight in 2012. For his third Olympics, McCabe will pull in the quad sculls. He now resides in Victoria.
- Quinn (women's soccer) The Tacoma-Seattle OL Reign midfielder, who goes by just one name, is going to the Olympics for a second time after helping Team Canada win bronze in 2016.
- Christine Sinclair (women's soccer) Canada's captain is also a Portland Thorns star forward. Tokyo will be Sinclair's fourth Olympics.
- Jillian Weir (hammer) Was a two-time All-American when she competed for the University of Oregon. Father Robert Weir was a three-time Olympian for Great Britain in discus and hammer throw. Jillian got to watch her father throw at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Summer Games.
- Jordin Andrade (400m hurdles) Andrade was born in Federal Way, Washington, and started running at Bonney Lake High School. This is Andrade's second Olympics after making it to the semi-final rounds of the 2016 Rio Games. His father hails from Cape Verde, an island nation off the coast of Africa.
- Carl Yuan (golf) Yuan was the golf team leader for the University of Washington for several years until his graduation in 2019. He met his future wife at UW, who is also now a pro golfer.
- Julio Rodriguez (baseball) This top prospect in the Seattle Mariners farm system played for the Everett AquaSox this spring before his recent promotion to AA Arkansas.
- Luis Liberato (baseball) This 2012 free agent signee of the Seattle Mariners has slowly advanced up the ladder of the minor leagues to the AAA Tacoma Rainiers, but has not yet appeared in a big league game.
- Amos Bartelsmeyer (1500m) This 2018 Georgetown University grad joined the Bowerman Track Club after he turned pro and has trained in Portland since last year.
- Konstanze Klosterhalfen (10,000m) She moved to Portland in fall of 2018 to train with a Nike-sponsored team under coach Pete Julian.
- Jacob Dawson (rowing) This 2016 University of Washington grad and former Husky crew team member will be in Team GB's men's eight.
- Fiona Gammond (rowing) This 2015 UW grad and former Husky crew member will be in the women's eight.
- Jake Heyward (1500m) Trains in Eugene with Oregon Track Club Elite
- Josh Kerr (1500m) This Scotsman trains in Seattle with the Brooks Beasts Track Club.
- Amy-Eloise (Neale) Markovc (5000m) This 2018 UW grad had a stellar prep running career at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Washington.
- Marc Scott (5,000 & 10,000m) This North Yorkshire native crossed the pond to run for Tulsa University and then stayed stateside to turn pro with the Bowerman Track Club, making him a part-time Portlander since 2018.
- Emanuel Ihemeje (triple jump) Born to Nigerian parents in Italy, Ihemeje grew up in Italy and France before moving to the U.S. for college. While just a freshman at the University of Oregon, Ihemeje was crowned the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field champion in the triple jump in Eugene.
- Valentina Iseppi (rowing) This 2020 UW grad and Husky crew alum will row in the quad sculls.
- Chiara Ondoli (rowing) This 2018 UW grad and Husky crew alum will row in women's double sculls.
- Ira Brown (3x3 basketball) An ex-Gonzaga Bulldog who came off the bench for two seasons in 2008 and 2009, Brown is a naturalized Japanese citizen who has played professionally in that country for about a decade.
- Rui Hachimura (basketball) This ex-Gonzaga Bulldog must be popular in his homeland because he was selected to be one of Japan's flagbearers for the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo. Hachimura helped the Zags reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament in his junior year in 2019 and left thereafter to enter the NBA draft.
- Nicole Momiki (women's soccer) The American-born Japanese forward plays professionally for Tacoma-based OL Reign.
- Suguru Osako (marathon) This Portland-based Nike athlete trained alongside American Olympic medalist Galen Rupp for quite a few years when both were members of the Nike Oregon Project.
- Tatyana Forbes (softball) This Redmond, Washington native and Redmond High School grad helped Team Mexico qualify for its first ever appearance in softball at the Olympics. Forbes is eligible to play for Mexico because her mother hails from Mazatlan.
- Caspar Corbeau (swimming) This Sunset High School (Beaverton) grad and longtime Tualatin Hills Swim Club member (2010-19) will compete in the 100 and 200 meter breast stroke. The 20-year-old has dual Dutch and American citizenship through his father's parents.
- Bram Schwarz (rowing) The 2020 UW grad and former Husky crew team member will pull in the Dutch men's eight.
- Simon van Dorp (rowing) Fellow 2020 UW grad and Husky rower will also pull in the men's eight.
- Kirstyn Goodger (rowing) UW grad '14 and crew team alum will sit in the Kiwi women's eight.
- Phoebe Spoors (rowing) UW grad '17 and crew team alum will sit in the Kiwi women's eight.
- Sam Tanner (1500m) The 20-year-old University of Washington middle-distance runner tore up the track setting new school records in his sophomore season. Surfing was Tanner's first love before he blossomed as a runner.
- Gianna Woodruff (400m hurdles) The hurdler is a 2015 University of Washington grad.
- Marta Pen Freitas (1500m) Trains with Brooks Beasts Track Club in Seattle.
- C.T. Pan (golf) This 2015 University of Washington grad found success on the PGA tour and is going to the Olympics for a second time. He placed 30th in the Rio Olympics tournament.
- Kieran Tuntivate (10,000m) This Thai-American Harvard grad turned pro in 2020 and joined the Portland-based Bowerman Track Club.