Tokyo Olympics: More than 60 athletes have connections to Illinois. See how they performed at the 2020 Games.

Tokyo Olympics: More than 60 athletes have connections to Illinois. See how they performed at the 2020 Games.
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At least 63 athletes with connections to Illinois competed at the Tokyo Olympics.

Some are current and former Chicago pro athletes, such as the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, the Red Stars’ Julie Ertz and former Cubs and White Sox pitcher Edwin Jackson. Some are former Chicago-area high school stars, such as Niles West basketball player Jewell Loyd, Glenbrook South swimmer Olivia Smoliga and St. Francis volleyball player Kelsey Robinson. And others starred at Illinois universities, including former Illinois tennis player Rajeev Ram, Southern Illinois hammer thrower DeAnna Price and Loyola volleyball player Thomas Jaeschke.

Baseball

Eddy Alvarez, United States

The former Chicago White Sox minor-leaguer could become just the third American to medal at the Winter and Summer Olympics if the U.S. team makes the podium. In 2014, Alvarez was part of the 5,000-meter short-track speedskating relay team that won silver. The infielder spent five seasons in the Sox farm system and now is in Triple A with the Miami Marlins after playing in 12 major-league games for the team in 2020.

Tim Federowicz, United States

Federowicz played in 17 games for the Chicago Cubs during the 2016 season. The catcher has played for six teams over eight major-league seasons and now is with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A team.

Todd Frazier, United States

Frazier, a two-time All-Star and 2015 Home Run Derby champion, played 1½ of his 11 major-league seasons with the White Sox before they traded him to the New York Yankees in the middle of the 2017 season. The first and third baseman was with the Pittsburgh Pirates to start the year, but he opted for free agency when they designated him for assignment in May.

Mitch Glasser, Israel

The White Sox drafted the Latin product in the 39th round in 2012. He played in the Sox organization for one season before playing in Australia and the American Association of Professional Baseball. He’s also an assistant baseball coach at Chicago State.

Edwin Jackson, United States

The former major-league pitcher of 17 seasons made 30 starts in 2010-11 for the White Sox and 58 starts and 82 appearances for the Cubs from 2013-15. He last pitched in a major-league game for the Detroit Tigers in 2019.

David Robertson, United States

The former White Sox closer spent 12 seasons in the majors, including 2½ in Chicago from 2015-17. After signing a two-year, $23 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2019 season, Robertson pitched in only seven games before injuring his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery later that year. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since.

Josh Zeid, Israel

The Cubs rehab pitching coordinator and pitching analyst has a history playing for Israel, including pitching in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Zeid, a 34-year-old Connecticut native, made 48 relief appearances over two seasons with the Houston Astros in 2013-14.

Basketball

Stefanie Dolson, United States: 3x3 women’s team

The Sky center is part of the first U.S. Olympic 3x3 team as the sport makes its debut at the Tokyo Games. Dolson, 29, has averaged 9.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game over an eight-year WNBA career with the Washington Mystics and Sky. She’s averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 rebounds this season.

Angela Dugalic, Serbia, women’s team

Dugalic, a former Maine West student, was Illinois Ms. Basketball in 2020. She played her freshman year for Oregon before transferring to UCLA this summer. Dugalic, 19, played for the Serbian team that lost in the bronze-medal game to France.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, Nigeria: Women’s team

The 2019 Northwestern graduate was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as a senior and ranks second in program history with 1,112 rebounds (9.2 per game). The 6-foot-2 Kunaiyi-Akpanah has played professionally in Italy and Belgium. Nigeria opens group play versus the U.S. on July 26.

Zach LaVine, United States: Men’s team

Just a few months after he was named to his first NBA All-Star team, the 6-foot-5 Bulls guard was picked for his first Olympic team. LaVine, 26, averaged 27.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season, his fourth with the Bulls and seventh in the NBA.

Jewell Loyd, United States: Women’s team

The former Niles West and Notre Dame guard will make her first Olympic appearance in the middle of the best season of her career. Loyd, a two-time WNBA All-Star whom the Seattle Storm drafted No. 1 overall in 2015, is averaging 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals.

Tomáš Satoranský, Czech Republic: Men’s team

The Bulls guard was the MVP of one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments after leading the Czech Republic with 16 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Satoranský, 29, averaged 7.7 points and 4.7 assists in 58 games this season, his second with the Bulls and fifth in the NBA.

Blake Schilb, Czech Republic: Men’s team

The Rantoul native played basketball at Loyola from 2003-07. He graduated as the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer (1,879 points) and all-time leader in 3-point field goals (204). After going undrafted, Schilb has played overseas and will make his Olympic debut with the Czech Republic.

Jada Stinson, Puerto Rico: Women’s team

A 5-8 guard who transferred to Illinois State in April from Arkansas State, Stinson was selected to the team that will make Puerto Rico’s first Olympic appearance in women’s basketball. She joins Charlotte Lewis (1976 U.S.) and Cathy Boswell (1984 U.S.) as the third Redbirds women’s basketball player to compete in the Olympics. Stinson, who began her college career at Memphis, led Arkansas State last season in scoring (12.6 ppg), assists (3.2 apg) and free-throw percentage (75.6%).

Cycling

Felicia Stancil, United States: BMX racing

The Lake Villa native and former Grayslake North student began BMX racing when she was 4 and won her first world title at age 9. She competed for Marian University in Indianapolis and was the 2019 USA Cycling Elite National Champion.

Equestrian

Kent Farrington, United States: Show jumping

The 40-year-old Latin grad is the top-ranked American in the world at No. 5. He helped the 2016 team win silver in Rio and also finished fifth individually.

Fencing

Eliza Stone, United States: Saber

The Chicago native, who has a brother and sister who also fence, was the 2013 NCAA saber champion at Princeton. She since has competed on the world stage and won bronze at the 2018 senior world championships. This is her first Olympics.

Golf

Thomas Detry, Belgium

Detry, the 2015 Big Ten golfer of the year at Illinois, makes his Olympic debut. He teamed with former Illini teammate Thomas Pieters to win the 2018 World Cup of Golf championship for Belgium.

Thomas Pieters, Belgium

The Illinois alum will make his second Olympic appearance after finishing fourth in 2016 in Rio. Pieters was the 2012 NCAA individual champion and helped the Illini finish as the NCAA runner-up in 2013.

Gymnastics

Tyson Bull, Australia: Horizontal bar

Bull, who was an All-American on the horizontal bar at Illinois, qualified for the Olympics at the 2019 World Championships when he earned a score of 14.366 on the horizontal bar and finished seventh in the event final. He will be the first Illini gymnast to compete in the Olympics since Justin Spring in 2008.

Evita Griskenas, United States: Rhythmic gymnastics

The Orland Park native and Sandburg graduate was the 2021 U.S. ball champion and the all-around, clubs and ribbon silver medalist. She trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center and will be making her Olympic debut.

Laura Zeng, United States: Rhythmic gymnastics

Zeng was the 2021 U.S. all-around champion and also took gold in hoop, clubs and ribbon. The Libertyville graduate finished 11th in the all-around competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which tied her for the best U.S. finish since Valerie Zimring in 1984. She trains at North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center.

North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics team, United States: Rhythmic gymnastics team competition

Based out of Chicago’s north suburbs, this team is made up of Isabelle Connor (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Camilla Feeley (Wheeling), Lili Mizuno (Northbrook), Elizaveta Pletneva (Wheeling) and Nicole Sladkov (Vernon Hills). They are the third U.S. rhythmic gymnastics team to compete in Olympic competition. With a different set of athletes, North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics also competed in Rio in 2016 but finished last in the Olympic qualifying round.

Alex Diab, United States

The Glen Ellyn native is an alternate on the men’s gymnastics team. He was the U.S. still rings champion in 2021 and 2019 and an NCAA champion for Illinois in still rings in 2019 and 2018.

Judo

Nefeli Papadakis, United States: 78 kilograms

Papadakis, a Gurnee native who attended Warren and College of Lake County, is making her Olympic debut at 78 kilograms. The three-time medalist at the Pan American Championships has been coached by her dad, Steve.

Rowing

Alie Rusher, United States: Women’s quadruple sculls

The Glenview native is making her Olympic debut. She won bronze at the 2018 World Rowing U-23 championships. Both of her parents were Olympic rowers: Her father, John, took home bronze in the Men’s 8 at the 1988 Games, while her mother, Cindy, won silver in the Women’s 4 in 1992.

Rugby

Lauren Doyle, United States: Women’s sevens

The Macon Meridian and Eastern Illinois grad is making her second Olympic appearance after helping the U.S. team to a fifth-place finish in 2016. She’s also a former track athlete.

Sailing

Maggie Shea, United States: 49erFX

The New Trier graduate grew up sailing on Lake Michigan, sailed at Connecticut College and will make her Olympic debut. Shea and teammate Steph Roble won bronze in the 49erFX World Championship in 2020.

Soccer

Tierna Davidson, United States

The 22-year-old defender is in her third season with the Red Stars and was the youngest player on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning team. After the California native helped Stanford to the NCAA title in 2017, she became the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NWSL draft.

Julie Ertz, United States

The two-time World Cup winner will add a second Olympics to her resume. The 29-year-old Red Stars midfielder/defender has played in only one game this season because of an MCL sprain but made the U.S. roster with hopes she’ll be ready for Olympic play.

Casey Krueger, United States

The Naperville Central grad originally was named an alternate but joined the full squad after roster rules changed, allowing teams to select 18 players each game from a pool of 22. Krueger, née Short, who played at Florida State, has been a defender with the Red Stars since 2016.

Alyssa Naeher, United States

The Red Stars goalkeeper has been on two World Cup-winning teams — as the backup to Hope Solo in 2015 and as the No. 1 goalkeeper in the U.S. team’s run to the 2019 championship. The 33-year-old Connecticut native has played with the Red Stars for six years.

Softball

Andrea Filler, Italy

The former Northwestern softball player and current director of operations for Wildcats softball and field hockey will be an infielder for the Italian softball team. Filler formerly played professionally in Italy and for the Chicago Bandits.

Swimming

Federico Burdisso, Italy: 200-meter butterfly

A rising junior at Northwestern, Burdisso set an Italian record (1:51.98) in the 200 fly in March. As a Wildcats freshman in 2019-20, he won 18 races and set school records in the 200 fly and 200 freestyle.

Krystal Lara, Dominican Republic: 100- and 200-meter backstroke

Lara completed her college career at Northwestern in 2020, qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a senior in the 100 and 200 back. She won silver (200) and bronze (100) medals in the events at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games and broke five national records (100 free, 50 back, 100 back, 200 back and 100 fly) at the 2018 Dominican Republic Swimming Nationals.

Ryan Murphy, United States: 100- and 200-meter backstroke

Murphy was born in Palos Heights but moved to Florida as a kid. He is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, winning the 100 and 200 back and 400 medley relay in 2016 in Rio.

Ema Rajic, Croatia: 100-meter breaststroke, 50-meter freestyle

The graduate of Urbana’s University High is competing for Croatia in the 100-meter breaststroke and 50-meter freestyle. She is the IHSA state-meet record-holder in the 100-yard breaststroke and now swims for California.

Olivia Smoliga, United States: 400-meter freestyle relay

The Glenbrook South graduate won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 400-meter medley relay. After finishing third in the 100 freestyle at the Olympic trials, she will be a part of the 400 free relay in Tokyo.

Jordan Wilimovsky, United States: 10-kilometer open-water race

The 2017 Northwestern graduate placed fifth in the 10-kilometer open-water swim in Rio and has a chance to win his first Olympic medal in Tokyo. Wilimovsky, who also was fourth in the 1,500-meter freestyle in Rio, qualified in July 2019 for the Tokyo Games in the 10K marathon event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2008.

Tennis

Rajeev Ram, United States: Men’s doubles

The Illinois alum, who won the 2003 NCAA doubles championship and helped the Illini to the team championship that year, returns to the Olympics after winning silver in the mixed doubles competition with Venus Williams in Rio in 2016. He will pair with Frances Tiafoe in the men’s doubles competition this year.

Track and field

Gwen Berry, United States: Hammer

The former Southern Illinois thrower will be making her second Olympic appearance. She failed to qualify for the hammer finals in Rio in 2016, with her throw of 229 feet, 4 inches placing 14th.

Kelsey Card, United States: Discus

The former Carlinville athlete will be making her second Olympic appearance. Card, who still owns the IHSA state-meet record in the discus and was the 2016 NCAA champion at Wisconsin, didn’t qualify for the finals in the 2016 Games in Rio.

Tori Franklin, United States: Triple jump

The Downers Grove South graduate is the American record-holder in the indoor and outdoor triple jump. She qualified for her first Olympics by placing second at the trials with a jump of 47 feet, 1½ inches.

David Kendziera, United States: 400-meter hurdles

Kendziera, a Mount Prospect native, was a 10-time All-American at Illinois. The 26-year-old ran a personal-best time of 48.38 seconds to earn a spot on his first Olympic team.

Sandi Morris, United States: Pole vault

The 2016 silver medalist in Rio was born in Downers Grove before her family moved to South Carolina when she was 4 years old. She won silver with a vault of 15 feet, 11 inches, in 2016 and is the American outdoor record-holder in the event.

Tim Nedow, Canada: Shot put

The former DePaul thrower will be making his second Olympic appearance. The Brockville, Ontario, native, who won multiple Big East titles in the shot put and discus at DePaul, didn’t make the finals in his first trip to the Olympics in 2016.

Aisha Praught-Leer, Jamaica: 1,500-meter run

The Moline native and former Illinois State runner will be competing in her second Olympics in a new event. After finishing 14th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2016, she will run in the 1,500 this year.

DeAnna Price, United States: Hammer

The Carbondale native set two American records at the Olympic trials, becoming the second woman to top 80 meters with her throw of 80.31 meters (263 feet, 6 inches). Poland’s Anita Włodarczyk holds the world record of 82.98 meters. Price, a two-time NCAA champion at Southern Illinois, finished eighth in 2016 in Rio.

Raven Saunders, United States: Shot put

Saunders won NCAA indoor and outdoor shot put titles in her freshman year at Southern Illinois before transferring to Mississippi, where she won two more national championships. She made her Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio, where she finished fifth.

Pedrya Seymour, Bahamas: 100-meter hurdles

Seymour will be making her second Olympic appearance for the Bahamas after finishing sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in 2016 in Rio. She was a three-time All-American at Illinois before she transferred to Texas for her final season and finished fourth in the 100 hurdles at the NCAA championships.

Darryl Sullivan, United States: High jump

The Marion native finished second at the Olympic trials with a jump of 7 feet, 7¾ inches, which tied his personal best. The 23-year-old Tennessee graduate, who finished fourth in the high jump at the NCAA Championships in June, will make his first Olympic appearance.

Zach Ziemek, United States: Decathlon

Ziemek finished seventh in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and was the 2018 U.S. national champion. The Lake Park and Wisconsin graduate had a personal best of 8,471 points in the decathlon at the Olympic trials to finish third.

Triathlon

Kevin McDowell, United States

The Geneva grad grew up competing in triathlon, but his career was derailed for a couple of years when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011. He recovered and became a seven-time Triathlon World Cup medalist and the 2017 USA Triathlon elite national champion. This will be his first Olympics.

Volleyball

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, United States

The Collinsville High School and Illinois grad is on her first Olympic team after she was an alternate in 2016. She helped the Illini’s run to NCAA runner-up in 2011. She has been a member of the women’s national team since 2015.

Thomas Jaeschke, United States

The former Wheaton Warrenville South player, who helped Loyola to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2014 and 2015, makes his second Olympic appearance. He played for the 2016 team that won bronze in Rio.

Jordyn Poulter, United States

The former Illini setter was an All-American in 2018 as a senior. At 23 entering her first Olympics, she is the youngest member of the U.S. volleyball team.

Kelsey Robinson, United States

Robinson, a former Wheaton St. Francis and Nebraska standout, was a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team that won bronze. She has been on the U.S. women’s national team since 2014.

Jeff Jendryk, United States

The Wheaton native is an alternate on the men’s volleyball team. When he graduated from Loyola in 2018, his career .449 hitting percentage was second all-time for the Ramblers. If he sees action, it would mark his Olympic debut.

Sources: Tribune reporting, TeamUSA.org, Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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