Tokyo Olympics: Which University Athletes With Connections To Utah Are Going To Tokyo?


The Summer Olympics are fast approaching.

More than 11,000 athletes representing 206 nations will compete in the Games in Tokyo, Japan from July 23 to August 8, including 15 athletes with ties to the University of Utah.


University of Utah

Hannah Flippen of Utah plays UCLA on May 6, 2016, in Salt Lake City.
Steve C. Wilson, Deseret News

Hannah Flippen (Softball, United States)

Hannah Flippen attended Utah from 2014 to 2017, with the Utes softball team. She was the Pac-12 Player of the Year twice in a row in 2016 and 2017 and ranks Utah’s all-time first in batting (.392), hits (263) and runs (197) .

The infielder will be a replacement for the 2020 Olympic team as softball returns to the Summer Games for the first time since 2008.

Flippen has represented the United States on four occasions: 2018 USA Softball International Cup (bronze medalist); 2017 Pan American Championship (gold medalist); 2017 Softball World Cup (silver medalist); and 2016 Softball World Cup.

University of Utah player Anissa Urtez swings on a field during a game against Brigham Young University at Miller Park in Provo on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. BYU defeated Utah 4-3 .
Alex Goodlett, Deseret News

Anissa Urtez (Softball, Mexico)

Anissa Urtez played in Utah from 2014 to 2017. Urtez was named to the All-Pac-12 first team in 2016 and the All-Pac-12 second team in 2016 in 2017. She holds a batting average of .358 in Utah.

Following his Utes career, Urtez played professionally and coached at the University of Utah Valley in 2018.

Urtez started from a shortstop when Mexico qualified for the 2019 Olympics. This marks the first time Mexico’s softball has qualified for the Games.

Leilani Mitchell of the University of Utah searches for an open teammate during a game against Stanford at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, November 18, 2007.
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Leilani Mitchell (Women’s basketball, Australia)

Leilani Mitchell played one season, her final year, in Utah in 2007-08, averaging 17 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals per game. She was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year.

After being drafted in the second round of the 2008 WNBA Draft, Mitchell carved out a 13-year career in the WNBA. She also plays in the WNBL, Australia’s professional women’s league, where she has won the championship three times and was the final MVP twice.

Mitchell last represented Australia at the 2016 Summer Games, as Australia advanced to the quarter-finals.

Kim Smith (4) of Utah pushes the ball down the field on March 27, 2006, during the Albuquerque Regional Championship game of the NCAA Tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Keith Johnson, Deseret News

Kim Gaucher (Women’s basketball, Canada)

Kim Gaucher (née Smith) enjoyed a fabulous career in Utah, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and two assists during her four-year stint as a Ute from 2002 to 2006. She was named Player. of the Year for three years in a row and is the only basketball player to have her number hung on the rafters at Huntsman Center.

She played three years in the WNBA and has carved out a long professional career abroad.

This will be the third appearance at the Olympics for Gaucher, who was part of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams.

MyKayla Skinner flashes her “U” as she performs her floor routine as Utah and Michigan face off in gymnastics at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday March 2, 2019.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

MyKayla Skinner (Gymnastics, United States)

MyKayla Skinner was phenomenal for the Red Rocks from 2017 to 2019. She was the NCAA Floor Champion in 2017 and NCAA Vault Champion in 2018, while also leading Utah to two Super Six appearances and three consecutive NCAA championship appearances. She received 23 All-American accolades during her career.

Skinner, who was a replacement for the United States Olympic team in 2016, will compete for the United States as an individual.

Grace McCallum after competing on uneven bars at the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Trials in the United States on Sunday, June 27, 2021 in St. Louis.
Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

Grace McCallum (Gymnastics, USA)

Grace McCallum will be a new recruit to the Red Rocks program in 2021-2022, and she will arrive as an Olympian.

McCallum will represent the United States as a member of the four-person main team, having qualified for fourth place on the team through her performance at the United States Olympic Gymnastics Trials.

McCallum has previously represented the United States, competing in the 2018 and 2019 world championship teams.

Kara Eaker competes in the floor exercise at the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Trials in the United States on Friday, June 25, 2021, in St. Louis.
Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

Kara Eaker (Gymnastics, United States)

Kara Eaker is another new recruit from Red Rock who will be arriving on campus after an Olympic experience.

Eaker has been selected to be a replacement for the United States in Tokyo.

She was a member of the 2018 and 2019 world championship teams for the United States.


BYU

BYU’s Taylor Sander serves in Hawaii during NCAA Volleyball in Provo on Saturday, Jan.5, 2013.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Taylor Sander (Men’s volleyball, United States)

Taylor Sander is one of the best BYU volleyball exports. He was an AVCA All-American for the four years he played for the Cougars (2011-14) and was named the 2014 AVCA Player of the Year. He holds school records for career murders (1,743) and career service aces (182). The Cougars competed in the National Championship in 2013 and the Final Four in 2014, with Sander at the helm.

He has played professionally abroad, winning the Qatar Cup with Al Arabi Doha and the Brazilian Cup with Sada Cruzeiro.

This will be the second Olympics for Sander, who won a bronze medal in 2016.

BYU’s Ben Patch points the ball at Scott Kevorken of UC Irvine during NCAA Volleyball in Provo on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013.
Appel Ravell, Deseret News

Ben Patch (Men’s volleyball, United States)

Ben Patch played for BYU in 2013 and from 2016 to 2017, winning three second places in the NCAA. He was named twice to the AVCA’s All-American First Team.

After leaving BYU, Patch played professionally in Europe, winning the German Championship.

He competed for the United States in 2018, when he won a bronze medal at the 2018 FIVB World Championship

He will be a replacement for the United States team.

BYU’s Brenden Sander passes the ball past Enrique de Diego Garcia and Zachary Melcher of CBU as BYU and Cal Baptist University play on Saturday February 7, 2015 at BYU at Smith Field House in Provo.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Brenden Sander (Men’s volleyball, United States)

Brenden Sander, who is the brother of Taylor Sander, played at BYU from 2015 to 2018 and was a two-time member of the AVCA All-American First Team. He helped BYU win two NCAA runners-up and a Final Four appearance.

He played professionally in Italy and Poland. He will be a replacement for the United States team.

American Jordan Gray, center, faces Russia in the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco on Friday, July 20, 2018.
Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

Jordan Matyas (Women’s Rugby, United States)

Jordan Matyas played on the BYU women’s rugby team.

She will start for the United States women’s rugby team. She played for the 2018 World Championship team, which finished fourth.

Josue Dominguez swims during a meeting against Utah on February 1, 2020.
BYU

Josue Dominguez Ramos (Men’s Swimming, Dominican Republic)

Josue Dominguez Ramos is a junior on the BYU swim team. He currently holds program records in the 100 breaststroke (51.81) and 200 breaststroke (1: 55.97).

It will be his first participation in the Olympics. He qualified for the 2016 Olympics, but instead chose to go on a mission in the church.


Weber State

Damian Lillard of Weber State dribbles in a men’s basketball game against the University of Utah at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, November 20, 2010. The Utes won 90-75.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Damian Lillard (Men’s basketball, United States)

Damian Lillard is the best basketball player ever to come out of Weber State and one of the best basketball players ever to recruit from a Utah school. Lillard was a 2012 All-American and was a two-time Big Sky MVP.

The Portland Trail Blazers goaltender has carved out a stellar career as one of the NBA’s best players as a six-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection, averaging 25 points per game in the during his career.

This will be the first Olympic appearance for Lillard, who will be a key player for Team USA.


University of Southern Utah

Cameron Levins of Southern Utah reacts by winning the men’s 10,000-meter at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall, Associated Press

Cameron Levins (Athletics, Canada)

Cameron Levins was on the SUU track team from 2007 to 2012. He holds the 3,000-meter program record (8: 13.74). He won the 2012 Bowerman Award, which is awarded to the best track and field athlete in the NCAA.

Levins previously represented Canada at the 2012 Olympics, competing in the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter races.


Salt Lake City Community College

Miami Marlins shortstop Eddy Alvarez awaits a game in the seventh inning of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday March 22, 2021 in Jupiter, Fla.
Lynne Sladky, Associate Press

Eddy Alvarez (Baseball, United States)

Incredibly, Eddy Alvarez was once an Olympian – in a sport other than baseball. At the 2014 Olympics, Alvarez won a silver medal for the United States as part of the speed skating 5,000-meter relay team.

He grew up skating and playing baseball, but focused on skating to make it to the Olympics. He played baseball for Salt Lake Community College and was signed with the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He now plays in the Miami Marlins organization, his hometown team. He made his MLB debut in 2020, playing 12 games for Miami with a double, two RBIs and a 0.189 batting average.

Baseball returns to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. No current MLB player on the 40-player rosters is eligible to compete in the Olympics. Alvarez currently plays for rookie league FCL Marlins.


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