UCLA and USC In The Olympics


Now that the Games of the 30th Olympiad are well underway, complete with a typically sparkling lighting of the torch, Paul McCartney exhorting everyone to sing “Hey Jude”, and team U.S.A already experiencing its share of triumphs (the Women’s Gymnastics team clinching the team gold, Missy Franklin winning the gold in her first individual swimming race) and disappointments (Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte failing to medal in swimming finals, the Men’s Gymnastics team choking in spectacular fashion as they finished a dismal fifth in the team competition after leading in the first day), I reckon it’s high time to talk a bit about the athletes representing UCLA and USC in London, as well as give a brief history of L.A’s two flagship universities in the Olympics.

First, the Bruins…

Over its history, UCLA has sent a total of 396 athletes to the Olympic Games, dating back to 1920. Bruins have won a whopping 241 medals, with 119 of them being gold.

34 Bruins are in London representing the United States, including:

– Amy Acuff, women’s track and field

– Lauren Chaney, women’s soccer

– Dawn Harper, women’s track and field

– Meb Keflezighi, marathon runner extraordinaire

– Sydney Leroux, women’s soccer

– Anna Li, women’s gymnastics (alternate)

and two men’s basketball players who are undoubtedly the biggest names from either UCLA or USC:

– Kevin Love,  who’s currently with the NBAs Minnesota Timberwolves, and…

– Russell Westbrook, who played for an NBA championship with the Oklahoma City Thunder back in June.

Among the Bruins who are coaching in London are current UCLA volleyball coaches Michael Sealy, who won the school’s 108th National Championship with his women’s volleyball team in November, and new men’s volleyball coach John Speraw, whose UC Irvine team beat USC to take this year’s NCAA title and who is taking over for the greatest coach on the history of that sport, Al Scates. Adam Krikorian (women’s water polo), Jillian Ellis (women’s soccer), and legendary volleyball player Karch Kiraly are also among the various Olympic coaching staffs.

And speaking of the USC Trojans…

No school has sent more athletes to the Olympics than ‘SC – 396 – or has won more medals – 262, with 123 of them being gold. The Trojans also claim at least one gold medalist from every Olympic Games dating back to 1912, a full 100 years.

That is a tremendous feat.

40 Trojans, including seven coaches with USC ties, are in London this time around trying for Team U.S.A glory, with Alyson Felix, who’s one of the favorites in women’s track and field as she’s scheduled to run in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, and the 400 meter relay, being the biggest Trojan name in these games.

Other ‘SC athletes in these London Olympics include:

– Haley Anderson, women’s swimming

– Nicole Davis, women’s volleyball

– Amy Rodriguez, women’s soccer

– Rebecca Soni, women’s swimming, entered in the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke

– Shea Buckner, men’s water polo

– James Clark, men’s water polo, who’s competing for Australia

– Lauren Wegner, women’s water polo,and…

– Paula Weiskoff, a big Trojan name from the 1980s who’s an assistant coach for the women’s volleyball team.

It’s a safe bet that these ‘SC athletes, as well as their UCLA counterparts, will make a great showing in London these next two weeks.

My advice? Yes, they need to focus and settle for nothing less than the gold, but they should also enjoy themselves and savor everything, because the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime thing where it’s definitely NOT guaranteed that they will participate in another one, as they come every four years- a lot can happen between the time the torch is doused on August 12th and when the torch is lit again in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

In the meantime, everybody in L.A. should root for these Bruins AND Trojans; put the rivalry aside for at least a little while.