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Better Know An Olympian II: First Blood

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Ok, so we learned a lot about our first 10 Olympians representing Cal, but there are many, many, many, many, many, many more.  I wonder if there is a listing of Olympians by American college.  I'd have to think that 40 Olympians is a strong contingent.  Let's get to it!



11.  Scott Frandsen



Scott Frandsen
Country: Canada
Event: Rowing - Pair, Four
Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
Years at Cal: 1999-2002

A three-time national champion with Cal's varsity eight at the IRA regatta (2000-02), Frandsen has excelled for Canada as part of the eight, coxless pair and coxless four. He took home gold in the pair from the recent Lucerne World Cup. He and Canada won in the eight at the 2001 Nations Cup Regatta in Austria, placed fifth in the eight at the 2004 Athens Olympics and claimed seventh in the 2005 World Championships in Japan. In the coxless pair, he took seventh in the 2002 World Championships and sixth in the 2003 Worlds. In 2006, as part of the coxless four, Frandsen was part of Canada's eighth-place finish at Worlds.

There's something interesting to me about a sport where you can compete as the "Coxless Four."  That is kind of how us Golden Bloggers view ourselves.  HydroTech and the Coxless Four. 

But back to Scott.  Here is his Wikipedia page.  It has more info on his 2004 Athens performance:

Scott went on to pursue selection for the 2004 Athens Olympics. He won two gold medals on the 2004 world cup circuit, both in the men's eight event, in Munich, Germany and in Lucerne, Switzerland. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, he was in the Canadian Men's eight (8+), which was among the favorites for the event. Unfortunately, his boat had a disappointing race in the finals finishing fifth.



Here's a Canadian bio.  It saddens me to read this:

Olympic Outlook:
  • Outside shot at a medal
  • Don't let the media get inside your head, Scott!  Believe!  Look at your accomplishments:

    • His Oxford crew defeated Cambridge in the 2003 Boat Race
    • Three-time U.S. Collegiate National Champion (2000-'02)
  • Captain of the University of California crew in 2002
  • Captain of Cal's crew team AND defeated Cambridge?!?!  TAKE THAT, CAMBRIDGE!

    12. Vicky Galindo




    Vicky Galindo
    Country: USA
    Event: Softball
    Hometown: Union City, Calif.
    Years at Cal: 2003-05

    An infielder for Team USA, Galindo will be playing in her first Olympics this summer. She was a two-time first-team All-American at Cal who finished with a .342 career batting average and led the Bears to three Women's College World Series. A native of Union City, Calif., Galindo is the third Golden Bear to be a member of the U.S. Olympic team, joining pitcher Michele Granger and catcher Gillian Boxx, who were on the 1996 squad.



    Her Olympic bio (linked above) notes she is coming off of an injury:

    Bad break
    During the fifth inning of the first game of Team USA's Bound 4 Beijing tour against the University of Arizona, Galindo was hit in the arm by a pitch from Taryne Mowatt. The pitch broke Galindo's arm, an injury that required surgery to insert a plate and screws. Galindo was sidelined for six weeks before returning to the lineup in April.

    Hopefully, she is fully healed from the injury and can represent Cal in her finest capacity!  Here is her Wikipedia page. 

    I linked to this previously, but here is a Cal athletics Q+A with her. How did you come to carry the Olympic torch as a 12-year-old in 1996?

    Galindo: "My mom entered a radio contest with an amazing letter why she thought her daughter deserved to carry the Olympic Torch. It was the Games' 100th anniversary and the first time that softball was in the Olympics. I carried it through Winters (Calif.). It was just a great experience. It was the first time I had thought about representing my country. The crowds in the streets were all so excited. My mom and I were talking and she said, 'Honey, wouldn't it be amazing if you were in the Olympics?' That's when I first started thinking about it."




    That photo comes from this (admittedly old) ESPN article on Vicky.  Some solid pub, there.  She plays(ed?) for a professional softball team in Chicago, which is what the article is referencing below:

    Chicago's starting second baseman, Galindo is easily one of the 20 or 30 best position players in the world. Fast and possessing the footwork and bat control needed to perfect softball's distinctive slap-hitting technique (think: Ichiro on fast forward), Galindo also has far more power when she swings away than her diminutive frame suggests. A key part of the U.S. national team this year, she's a good bet to go to Beijing for next year's Olympics, the last in which softball will be contested.

    13. Rolandas Gimbutis




    Rolandas Gimbutis
    Country: Lithuania
    Event: Men's Swimming - 50 Freestyle
    Hometown: Kaunas, Lithuania
    Years at Cal: 2004-05

    Gimbutis was a member of the Lithuanian Olympic team in 2000 and 2004, and has qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in the 50 freestyle. At the 2004 Olympics, he placed 14th in the 100 free (49.75), was 21st in the 50 free (22.59) and swam the lead-off leg on Lithuania's 400 free relay (sixth in its heat in 3:19.28). During the 2004 World Championships, he was fifth in the 100 free with a time of 48.62. He helped Cal to NCAA titles in the 200 and 400 free relays and the 200 medley relay as a sophomore in 2005 during his Golden Bear career.

    Rolandas is part of Team Darfur, showing he is a Berkeley boy through and through.  Team Darfuf is:

    A campaign leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Team Darfur aims to educate the global public through the unique voice of elite athletes. Team Darfur brings together the world's Olympic and professional athletes to put international pressure not only on Sudan, but also on those countries that support the policy of inaction in the face of this dire humanitarian crisis.

    Here is a moderately old article about his path to Cal.

    "I basically came here for the coaching," he explains. "I know that the program they use (at Cal) is really good and works for all the best sprinters.

    What he didn't know, however, was exactly what he was getting himself into when he committed to traveling halfway around the world for an opportunity to train in Berkeley Calif.

    Gimbutis had originally sent a letter to head coach Nort Thornton expressing an interest in coming to his least what arrived in Thornton's mailbox bore a kind of resemblance to being a letter.

    "His English and sentence structure were so bad," Thornton recalls. "But I finally got the gist that he wanted to come to school here."

    The veteran coach wrote him a standard reply, explaining to Gimbutis about the University of California application process- including details about requisite grade point averages, test scores and the like. Thornton wasn't particularly surprised when he never heard anything more about the matter.

    Then one day-many, many months later-there was a knock on Thornton's office door.

    "This guy filled the whole door frame," Thornton says with a laugh, remembering his very first glimpse of Gimbutis. "He had to duck down to get through it. Basically, he had a little gym bag on his arm, and it barely looked like anything compared to his size."

    "I'm here to start," Gimbutis told Thornton in broken English. "Start what?" Thornton asked, eyeing the immense stranger warily.

    After much confusion, and no doubt more than a little pantomime, Thornton came to realize that not only was Gimbutis the young man who had written to him a year earlier, but that he had now moved to Berkeley sight unseen to train with the Golden Bears. All of Gimbutis' worldly possessions, in fact, were contained in his small duffle.

    Ballsy.  Ballsy.  Read the whole article, it is intense.  He is an amazing person to just move halfway across the world like that.  And he loves the colo(u)r green:


    I cannot find any youtube videos of Rolandas, because all searches are turning up videos on Lithuanian comedian Rolandas Kazlas.  Like this classic Rolandas Kazlas video here, where it appears that Hitler is watching a video of a basketball game.

    Oh, Rolandas Kazlas, are there any lines you *won't* cross?

    14. Jernej Godec



    Jernej Godec
    Country: Slovenia
    Event: Men's Swimming - 50 Freestyle
    Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Years at Cal: 2005-08

    A member of Cal's 2008 Pac-10 champion 200 free, 200 medley and 400 medley relays, Godec placed sixth in the 50 free and 12th in the 100 free at the NCAA meet this past year. On relays, he was part of the Bears' national runner-up 400 medley relay, as well as the third place 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley relays. A veteran of international competition, he anchored Slovenia's 400 medley relay at the 2004 Olympics and placed 12th in both the 50 free and 50 butterfly at the 2007 World Championships. Godec is an immunology and molecular and cell biology major and has received a Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship.

    Here's a video of him in a Swim Off at the 2007 World Championships.  Swim Off!  It's a Swim Off!

    Here is his Wikipedia page.

    Here is a CSTV story on him.  Looking at his major, he is clearly insane:

    "I liked living in the Olympic Village and the experience of being around the best athletes of each country," Godec remarked. "Training at Cal has helped prepare me - the facilities, the coaching staff, the swimming, the weight room are the top you can get."

    Godec selected Cal because of its high-level athletics as well as the opportunity to pursue his academic interests. A few peopled warned him not to major in molecular and cell biology due to the demands of being a student-athlete and the limitations of his English. However, Godec followed his instincts and, while he admits the language barrier and classes have been challenging, he has no regrets.


    15.  Jessica Hardy. 



    Jessica Hardy
    Country: USA
    Event: Women's Swimming - Breaststroke/Freestyle
    Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
    Years at Cal: 2005-07

    Hardy won NCAA titles in the 200-yard breaststroke at Cal, claiming championships in the 2005-06 and 2006-06 seasons, before leaving school for a professional career. A Long Beach product who now resides in Los Angeles, Hardy was a U.S. national team rookie when she set a world record in the 100-meter breast semifinal at the 2005 World Championships. A two-time U.S. champion in the 100 breast (2004 and 2005 summer nationals), Hardy currently holds the world records in the short course 5- and 100 breast, both of which she set in the 2008 World Championships. At the '08 Olympic Trials, she won the 100 breast (1:06.87) and was the runner-up in the 50 free (24.82). Hardy also qualified for the 400 free relay with a fourth-place finish in the 100 free at trials.

    Official Website.From her most recent blog update at the Official Website:

    I have the word "taper" in quotes because my coach doesn’t like to use that word. Rather, he calls it "fine tuning." I am resting for Trials differently than I have in the past couple of years for my big meets, not cutting back as much, because my training is different: I do not lift, I have only been doing two doubles a week, am with a different coach then when at Cal, and because my times from meets this summer have consistently been where we want them. I am rather correcting the small things that I sometimes overlooked during the training season, and doing a lot of racing in practice. It’s been FUN! Fun not only because I love to race, but also because there seems to be a certain "buzz" in the atmosphere on deck with exactly seven days till we depart for Trials! I know that every swimmer in the nation that’s attending the meet next week knows that "buzz" feeling that I am talking about, I know that everyone out there has a level of nervousness….but you have to have fun with it! I have been saying all year that I am very excited to attend my second US Olympic Trials (even though I am EXTREMELY bummed they’re not in my hometown this time!!!!!!!!!!), and I am excited for the opportunity to qualify for my first US Olympic Team…..but it’s finally here!

    The hardest part about "taper time" or "fine tuning time," whatever you want to call it, is keeping myself from running in circles and climbing the walls with excitement and anticipation. I bought myself some TV series on DVD’s, which has kept me calm and off my legs all day. I am almost done with season 1 of The Office, and I think I have laughed harder at that show than any other time I can remember in my life! I used to think the show was kind of weird and awkward, and didn’t really care to get into it, but now that I have started, those two qualities are exactly what I LOVE about it. For those other Office fans out there, I have to say that I wish I knew Dwight in real life, let alone getting to work with him everyday. I can only imagine what he could get himself into at a swim practice…….I think I am the only one who has the free time to imagine situations like this.

    I am not sure if I will blog again before Trials start, but know that I am heading into it head on. I am excited to travel to paradise (Omaha) and going to fight till the end to make the Team! Be sure to follow the results, maybe light a candle for good luck for me! And as always, thanks for reading!

    Love everyone of you,

    Wikipedia page. 

    Here's an "Ask Jessica" page with over 200 questions she has answered.  A few snippets:

    Question: I would like to know what time you swam the 50m breastroke in when you were 11 years old?
    Answer: I'm sorry I don't remember!

    Question: can you ride your bike with no handle bars?
    Answer: I CAN ride my bike with no handle bars

    Ok, maybe I needed to pick better questions to emphasize there.

    16. Kristin Heaston



    Kristin Heaston
    Country: USA
    Event: Track & Field - Shot Put
    Hometown: Pleasant Hill, Calif.
    Years at Cal: 1999

    In 2007, Heaston claimed her third U.S. Outdoor Championship with a personal-best throw of 61-5.75 (18.74m). She won her second U.S. Outdoor title in 2005 with a then-personal-best 61-3.5 (18.68m), and competed in the qualifying round at the World Outdoor championships. At the 2004 Olympic Games, Heaston was the first woman to throw in the qualifying round at Ancient Olympia, making her the first woman ever to compete at Olympia. After her first throw of 53-10.75 (16.41m), she fouled in her second attempt before posting her best throw of 56-4 (17.17m), coming up just short of the automatic qualifying mark of 60-8.5 (18.50m). In 2003, Heaston became the first woman to win the U.S. Indoor and Outdoor shot put titles in the same year since Connie Price-Smith did it in 2000. She was a standout at the University of Florida, before transferring to Cal when she found out her father, Steve, was suffering from brain cancer. Steve at the time was the men's water polo coach at Cal. A five-time All-American, Heaston took fourth in the 1999 NCAA championships (54-0) in her senior season, her only year with the Bears. At the Olympic Trials, she placed second with a throw of 60-2.

    Well, she only spent 1 year at Cal, apparently, but we'll count her!  Her Wikipedia page.



    Here she is throwing in the 2008 trials.  The caption notes that "Kristin Heaston throwing 18.34m and finish in 2nd place."

    USATF bio.  On being first woman to compete at the ancient site of the Olympics:

    she was the first woman to throw in the qualifying round of the 2004 Olympic Games SP at Ancient Olympia, making her the first woman ever to compete at Olympia…after her first throw of 16.41m/53-10.75, she fouled in her second attempt before posting her best throw of 17.17m/56-4, short of the automatic qualifying mark of 18.50m/60-8.5. "It’s just exciting to be here and be part of it. Who knows when there will be another woman competing here, or another competition? It’s just awesome."

    There were some somber reasons as to why she was at Cal in the first place:

    a standout at the University of Florida, Heaston transferred to Cal-Berkeley her junior season when she found out that her father was suffering from brain cancer…the elder Heaston was the men’s water polo coach at Cal-Berkeley…he died in July of 1999

    Good luck to her at the Olympics this year!

    17. Elliot Hovey



    Elliot Hovey
    Country: USA
    Event: Rowing - Double Sculls
    Hometown: Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.
    Years at Cal: 2003-06

    The former Bear, who currently rows for the California Rowing Club in Oakland, Calif., won the double sculls at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team with rowing Wes Piermarini. Hovey finished fourth in the double sculls at the second 2008 National Selection Regatta. While at Cal he was part of the varsity eight that captured the 2006 IRA championship as well as the '06 Pac-10 title.

    Official Olympic Bio.  He was wildly successful at Cal:

    From the sweep to the sculls
    A member of the varsity eight at Berkeley, Hovey and his teammates won the Pac-10 Championships and the IRA Championships in 2006. Upon graduating with a degree in American Studies that same year, Hovey continued rowing at the California Rowing Club, where he learned how to scull from Australian Olympic veteran Tim McLaren; "Tim has taught me so much about how to be a rower, an athlete and a human being," Hovey said.

    A CSTV article on his qualifying:

    California alumnus Elliot Hovey qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the double scull today in the U.S. Rowing Olympic Trials on Lake Mercer. Hovey and California Rowing Club teammate Wes Piarmini won the first two races - one each yesterday and today - to claim the best of three final series and claim an Olympic berth. In today's race, Hovey's boat posted a time of 6:27.348 to edge Thomas and Peter Graves by 2.5 seconds.

    Difficult to find information or media on this gentleman.

    18.  Sara Isakovic




    Sara Isakovic
    Country: Slovenia
    Event: Women's Swimming - Backstroke/Freestyle
    Hometown: Bled, Slovenia
    Years at Cal: Incoming Freshman

    As an international force in both freestyle and butterfly events, Isakovic, an incoming Cal freshman, has top world rankings in the 200 freestyle (11th 1:58.19 LCM), the 200 butterfly (14th 2:08.69) and the 400 free (89th 4:14.79 LCM). She competed in the 200 free at the 2004 Olympics and the 200 fly at the 2007 World Championships.


    If Cal counts Kristin Heaston, after only 1 year there, they also count Sara Isakovic, who has yet to attend.  But hey, we'll take it!  They don't even have a photo of her up.  Here are a few







    I'm having some trouble finding more general biographic information on her.  I can find a lot of information on her doing really well at an international meet earlier this year. 

    19.  Jason Kidd.




    Jason Kidd
    Country: USA
    Event: Men's Basketball
    Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
    Years at Cal: 1993-94

    Jason Kidd, an All-American point guard at Cal from 1993-94, had a tremendous impact on the Golden Bear program during his two seasons in Berkeley. He was voted National Freshman of the Year in 1993 after leading the country in steals with 110 and guiding the Bears to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16. As a sophomore, Kidd was voted Pac-10 Player of the Year and a first-team Associated Press All-American when he dished out a national-best 272 assists (9.1 apg) and recorded four triple doubles. He set a school record with 18 assists at Stanford in 1994 and established a Cal mark with eight steals vs. Washington in 1993. His career total of 204 steals is also a school record. Overall, Kidd averaged 14.9 ppg and 8.4 apg as a collegian. He declared for the NBA Draft in 1994, was a taken with the second overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks and was voted Co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill in 1995. Over his professional career, Kidd has been named a starter in the All-Star game four times and he is a four-time first-team All-Defensive performer. This selection marks Kidd's second appearance on the U.S. Olympic team after serving as a tri-captain at the Sydney Games in 2000, when he led Team USA to a gold medal.

    If you don't know who Jason Kidd is, ask Yellow Fever.  But be fore-warned, the ensuing rant might not exactly be PG13.  Go Nets!

    20. Bart Kizierowski



    Bart Kizierowski
    Country: Poland
    Event: Men's Swimming - 50 Freestyle
    Hometown: Warsaw, Poland
    Years at Cal: 1997-2000

    Kizierowski won two NCAA titles and seven Pac-10 titles during his Cal career and set the world's best time in the long course 50-meter freestyle (22.81) at the European Championships in 2007. This past March, he was fourth in the 50 free at the European Championships (22.27). He was a three-time All-American at Cal, and served as a volunteer assistant for the Bears after graduating.

    Finally!  With all the Eastern Europeans, I was waiting for some who shared my heritage!  And from Warsaw, too.  I wonder if he shares my love of avant-garde Polish Klezmer.  Tell me, Bart.  Do you like Kroke?????? 

    He is in that Race Club along with all the other Cal swimming olympians, like Nathan Adrian.  Here is an interview with him.  Bad news.  He's a Lakers fan:

    What’s your dream job other than pro swimmer? Starting small forward for LA Lakers.

    Maybe he was a Dubs fan until Baron crushed our dreams.  Our collective dreams.  Hey, Bart, we got Turiaf now!  Do you want to be a Dub now?????



    Not a lot of recent information on this gentleman.  But I did stumble upon this interesting story from June.  Apparently, Cal's stories coach, Mike Bottom, left Cal last year.  He went to work in Florida on training the swimmers like Nathan Adrian and Co. for the Olympics.  Apparently, UMich has hired him now.  I, honestly, do not know too much about this, except that Mr. Bottom is one of the finest swimming coaches and it is unfortunate for Cal to lose him to Michigan.  I am sure that for those who follow collegiate swimming, this is all old news.  But a coach of this level of kwality would be certainly helpful to keep at Cal:

    For more than a decade Bottom has coached at The Race Club. In the past three Olympiads, one-half (nine) of the 18 medals awarded in the men's sprint freestyle events (50m and100m) have been won by athletes that he has coached. Bottom took a group of 13 swimmers to Europe for a training camp and international competition circuit. After winning the European championships Cal's Bart Kizierowski was number one in the world, Duje Draganja was a silver and bronze medalist in the same competition. During the summer of 2004 he coached 10 swimmers from eight different countries at the Olympic Games in Athens.

    So, there you go.  The next 10 Cal Olympians.  Some tough to find information on, others not as much.  At this rate, I should finish up right before the Olympics start and hopefully we can learn as much as possible about those representing Cal.  Wherever in the world you might be, I think we can all agree that, basically, you just plain gotta GO BEARS!