As Saturday came to an end, so did the Rio Olympics for the last of Cal’s 50 representatives participating at this year’s Summer Games. Three alumni competed on the second to last day of Rio 2016, with volleyball star Carli Lloyd taking home a medal at the end of the day.
In the bronze medal matchup against the Netherlands, Lloyd and the rest of Team USA took down the Dutch in four sets — 25-23, 25-27, 25-22 and 25-19. Her medal color wasn’t the one she was expecting, as Team USA entered Rio as the No. 1 team in the country and the favorites to take gold in the event. The team was knocked out of gold medal contention by Serbia in the semifinals, but was able to hold off the tough Netherlands team to prevent the U.S. from heading back stateside empty handed.
Team USA’s Olympic run has been quite a journey for Lloyd, who graduated from Cal in 2011. At 22 years old, she was diagnosed with a pair of stress fractures in her shins that threatened to put her volleyball career on standby. The injuries led to a years-long battle with depression, which only subsided when she decided to tackle the mental aspect of her injury instead of the physical.
Tackling the mental side paid off, as she won not only a gold medal, but the MVP award for Team USA’s volleyball team during the 2015 Pan American Games. Last month, Lloyd became the first Cal volleyball player to be selected to an Olympic team after being on the U.S. National Team since 2011. She played the entirety of the Olympics as the backup setter as well as during the first two sets in the U.S.’s final matchup.
While playing volleyball at Cal, Lloyd was a three-time All-American and is still the only Bear to be named the American Volleyball Coaches Assocation’s National Player of the Year.
Cal’s other competing two alumni spent their days on the track, as Inika McPherson competed in the women’s high jump and David Torrence ran the men’s 5,000-meters.
In a sport predominantly dominated by tall athletes, McPherson — standing at 5 feet and 4 inches — finished tied for 10th with Great Britain’s Morgan Lake and Ukraine’s Iryna Gerashchenko. McPherson was able to jump six feet and two inches in her first attempt of the competition. In her second attempt, she was able to clear 6 feet and 4 inches, just an inch away from eventual gold medal winner Ruth Beitia of Spain.
She competed in Rio only a few months removed from coming back from a 21-month suspension for testing positive for benzoylecgonine — the main metabolite of cocaine — making her performance all the more impressive. At Cal, McPherson was a three-time All-American and still holds Cal’s indoor high jump record at 6- feet.
Torrence, who graduated in 2008, ran the 5,000-meter final for his mother’s native country of Peru. He finished almost 40 seconds behind first place winner Mo Farah of Great Britain, completing his race with a time of 13:43.12. He set the Cal freshman 1,500-meters record in 2004 and still holds the fifth-best time in the event 12 years later.