Cal has always been one of the nation’s best overall athletics programs and has been home to some of the world’s best athletes — ranging from NBA All-Stars to NFL MVPs and Olympic Gold Medalists. Cal has historically been very well represented in the Olympics, and this year’s games will be no exception.
If Cal had been its own country in the 2012, it would have tied for sixth in the Olympic games for the number of gold medals won (11). Fourteen of Cal’s Olympians this year will be making return trips to the games, including seven who are already Olympic medalists. This year, Cal will have 41 athletes in the Games, representing both the United States and many other countries in 15 different sports. Although all of Cal’s representatives will surely be competitive in their respective events, where alumni are most expected to excel are in the pool and on the soccer pitch.
The Games will feature 18 Golden Bear swimmers who are either current student athletes, alumni or incoming freshmen. Cal’s Olympic team also features six rowers and five water polo players for a total of 23 athletes in aquatic sports. The major spotlight for swimming will be on former Bear Missy Franklin. As a five-time medalist in the London Games, Franklin officially turned professional immediately after the 2015 NCAA season, in which she led the Bears to the National Championship while still winning three NCAA individual titles. Franklin failed to qualify in the 100-meter backstroke, however, at the most recent Olympic trials, but will still represent the United States in 200-meter backstroke, the event in which she holds the world record.
Franklin will be competing alongside another former bear: Dana Vollmer. Vollmer retired after the 2012 Olympic Games in London to give birth to her son, but the former world-record holder in the 100-meter butterfly and four-time gold medalist will be back in action this year for Team USA.
The men’s swimming team will also send a handful of Bears to Rio. Eight total athletes will be making the trip from the team, but the major name to look forward to is Nathan Adrian. Adrian became well known after his gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle in London, and he also currently holds the 50-meter freestyle American record. He will be coached by his former coach at Cal, David Durden, who will be the assistant coach for Team USA.
Cal will also be represented by some of the world’s best female soccer players. Alex Morgan, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, will be a key part of the United States offensive gameplan in August. The Former US soccer athlete of the year will look to help lead the US Women’s National Soccer Team to its fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Cal athlete Danny Barrett will be participating in a reintroduced Olympic event and will have a great opportunity to defend the United States gold medal in Olympic rugby — one that came in 1924, the last time rugby was featured in the Games. Rugby sevens is a fast paced and shortened version of traditional 15-a-side rugby and will be making its return at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Barrett figures to have a big role in the US men’s team, the Eagles.