Several Wildcats Tracking for Olympics, Paralympics
With fewer than 40 days to go until Rio, a number of current and former UA student-athletes have qualified for the 2016 Games.

University Relations – Communications
June 29, 2016

Oder, Tjasa _DPJ4680_1.JPG

Tjasa Oder, a student in the Eller College of Management, is among the UA-affiliated athletes who will compete in the Olympic Games this summer. Oder will compete for her native Slovenia.
Tjasa Oder, a student in the Eller College of Management, is among the UA-affiliated athletes who will compete in the Olympic Games this summer. Oder will compete for her native Slovenia. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics)

The countdown to Rio 2016 is on, and several current and former University of Arizona student-athletes have qualified or are spending the summer trying to qualify for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Leading up to the Olympic Games in August, Arizona Athletics has launched a site to keep fans informed about who is competing and when they are competing. To learn more, visit the site.

Puerto Rico native Rafael Quintero will compete in the Olympics for his home country, having placed in the top 18 in the preliminary round of the 2016 FINA Diving World Cup. Quintero, also a student in the UA College of Engineering, is the fifth diver in Arizona history to make it to the Olympics. Earlier this year, he was named the Pac-12 Conference Men's Diver of the Year after earning two runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships. 

Attending with Quintero will be the UA's head diving coach, alumnus Omar Ojeda, who has trained qualifiers and medalists for the World Aquatics Championships and Olympics. At the UA, Ojeda was a four-time All-American, earned the Diver of the Year award twice and went on to qualify for the 2004 Olympics for his native Mexico. He returned to the UA as coach in 2011.

UA alumni Michael Meyer and Brad Tandy will compete for their native South Africa.

Meyer, a three-time All-American, had the fastest time on the team in the 200 individual medley, the 400 individual medley and the 100 backstroke during the 2014-2015 academic year. Tandy was the 2015 Pac-12 champion in the 50 freestyle and a 2014 NCAA champion in that event.

Tjasa Oder, a student in the Eller College of Management, will represent Slovenia in the 800 freestyle. She also competed in the Olympics in 2012. 

Spain native and UA alumnus Pau Tonnesen, a decathlete, will compete for his home country. In May, Tonnesen won Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Year for a second consecutive season. In 2015, he competed in three decathlons during the outdoor season, setting a school record for points scored in a decathlon at the NCAA Championships. He also competed in the decathlon for Spain in the European Cup, finishing second overall.

Also, triathlete Ben Kanute, who graduated from the UA with a physiology degree in 2014, will compete as a U.S. Olympic team member for the men's triathon.

The Paralympic Games will be held in Rio after the Olympic Games, Sept. 7-18.

UA wheelchair tennis coach Bryan Barten and player Dana Mathewson, a California native, will travel alongside former players David Wagner and Kaitlyn Verfuerth to represent Team USA in the Paralympics.

Wagner played for the UA wheelchair tennis team in the early 2000s as a community member, and it will be his fourth time representing Team USA at the Paralympics. Verfuerth competed with UA wheelchair tennis from August 2010 to May 2012, while completing an undergraduate degree in psychology. Rio will mark her third appearance at the Paralympics.

Shirley Reilly, a UA Wheelchair track and field athlete, will represent Team USA for the fourth time at the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Also, former UA wheelchair women's basketball player Jennifer Poist is representing Team USA. Poist completed a seven-year stretch with UA wheelchair basketball in May. She helped lead the team to NWBA championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition to UA Adaptive Athletics, Poist represented Team USA at the 2012 Paralympics and was a member of the 2014 World Championship team.

Former UA wheelchair tennis player Adam Kellerman will represent Australia. Kellerman was an international student at the UA in 2010-2011.   

And former UA Wheelchair basketball athletes Darlene Hunter and Alana Nichols will be headed to Rio with Hunter on the USA Wheelchair basketball team and Nichols competing in paracanoe events, which is canoeing for athletes with physical impairments.

Extra info

Follow UA Olympic hopefuls via the Arizona Athletics site.