So uh, I don't know if you've heard, but there's this little get-together over in London during the next couple weeks involving various athletic competitions. Competitions that, according to one of my co-workers, "Ain't real sports 'cuz if 'twas a real sport then why don't 'Merica have a pro league in it?" (Hard to argue with that sort of irrefutable logic - he later explained that basketball and wrestling are proper sports, while soccer and
track and field "Athletics" are not. I love living in SEC country.)
Anyway, something else you may not have realized is that Iowa State is actually 3rd overall in the Big 12 for NCAA titles. As you might have guessed, none of these titles are in events that my co-worker would call "real 'merican sports." It also means that while we may not be churning out a lot of first round draft picks in those football or basketball (KO and Royce excluded, obviously), we have some really great Olympic athletes competing for Iowa State during the school year. The London 2012 games are no different. Here's everything you need to know about the 4 former and current Cyclones competing in this year's Olympiad:
GUOR MARIAL - SOUTH SUDAN (RUNNING UNDER THE OLYMPIC FLAG)
This guy is Hard as a Motherf*cker. From the LA Times:
Meet Guor Marial, a marathon runner originally from war-torn Sudan. Marial's story of survival is enough to pierce the most hardened heart.
He was kidnapped at gunpoint when he was 8 years old and taken to a labor camp. He escaped imprisonment by running away with another child under the cover of night, hiding in a cave from his captors before returning to his family. Only he was kidnapped again and forced to work unpaid for a year by a Sudanese soldier's family. Marial says 28 members of his family died from violence and disease during the unrest. He was finally able to seek refuge in Egypt before making his way to the U.S., where he was granted asylum when he was a teenager.
Holy shit. University of Iowa Strength and Conditioning Coaches have nothing on the kidnapped-for-slave-labor-at-age-8 training program. And because war-torn South Sudan does not yet have an officially recognized Olympic Committee, he will be one of 4 athletes walking in under the Olympic Banner. Pretty cool, right?
JAKE VARNER - USA
Freestyle Wrestling, 96 kg
Resume: 2 NCAA Championships, 4-time NCAA Finalist, Bronze Medal 2011 WWC
Since posting a 31-0 record as a Cyclone senior, Varner has been training in State College with Cael and took home the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul (Not Constantinople.) He represents the best chance at a current/former Cyclone bringing home the gold, mostly because his weight class is completely wide-open this year. The reigning world champion (Rexa Yazdani, Iraq) is a solid wrestler but not impressive, and the Russians (who have won this event at the last three olympiads) are entering the guy who tied Varner for 3rd last year at the World Wrestling Championships.
All matches in this weight class will are scheduled for Sunday, August 12. Qualifiers begin at 8:30 am, while the gold medal match is scheduled for 1:25 pm that same day. The winner of this event will have wrestled 6 matches in a span of roughly 6 hours - which is absolutely nuts considering the amount of strength and energy expended in even one match at this level of competition.
LISA UHL - USA
Athletics, 10000 metres
Resume: 11-time NCAA All-American (XC/T&F), 4 time NCAA Champion, 2008/2009 ESPN Academic All-American of the Year.
A native of Fort Dodge, Lisa Uhl (formerly Koll) is the sixth-fastest woman ever to run 10,000 meters. She finished 4th at the Olympic Trials after a double bout of shoe sabotage and still managed to battle back into contention to qualify. She is the first ex-Cyclone woman to compete for the United States in any event. (She placed 4th, but the 2nd place runner from Texas A&M had not turned in an "A" standard Olympic time, and was unable to beat the minimum time in the rainy qualifying conditions.)
The Women's 10k meter race will be run on August 3rd. While Uhl is not the favortie in this event (In fact she's way back behind a bunch of Kenyans and USA's own Amy Hastings), her ability to recover in pressure situations could serve her well. Also, if running or legs and spandex are your thing you could certainly do worse than these video highlights of the final. (Bonus: Texas A&M runner gets trampled, battles back into first, then gets beaten at the very end of the race. How very, very Aggie of her.)
IAN WARNER - CANADA
Athletics, 4x100 metre relay
Want to see the Iowa State logo pop up in the Olympics? Tune into this race. Ian is one of those runners who really like to wear those black undereye sunblockers with the logos on them. Most have block I-State and Canada logos. While there's a pretty good chance they'll both be Canadian Flags, it opens an IRL trolling opportunity:
1. Bet the Tavern Hawk in your life $20 that an Iowa State logo will show up during the Olympic coverage.
2. DVR the 4x100 prelims race on Friday, August 10th.
3. CONGRATS YOU NOW HAVE $20 AND HAVE PISSED OFF A HAWK FAN GOOD JOB
The Obligatory Drinking Game for the Opening Ceremonies is linked here for your convenience.