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Better Know An Olympian IV: A New Hope

Part I

Part II

Part III

Well, then.  If this Better Know An Olympian is anything like it's namesake, it'll be incredibly dated in 30 years.  But if this Better Know An Olympian is anything like all the other shlock I write, it'll be an insult not only to the fine men and women who represent Cal in the games, but also America.  And every English teacher I ever had.

Sorry, Mrs. Doke!  Sorry!




29. Teri McKeever



Teri McKeever
Country: USA
Event: Women's Swimming - Assistant Coach
Years at Cal: 1993-present

Women's swimming head coach Teri McKeever will serve as an assistant U.S. coach for the second straight Olympiad this summer in Beijing. Regarded as one of the best swimming mentors in the United States, McKeever was the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swimming staff (2004) and the first women to serve as head coach of the national team at a major international meet (2006 Pan Pacific meet in British Columbia). She was an assistant coach for the U.S. team during World Championship competition in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Other international coaching duties included assistant roles at the 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships. A two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, McKeever has guided the Bears to 12 Top 10 national team finishes and has coached 15 Olympians, including three on the 2008 roster (Natalie Coughlin, Emily Silver and Jessica Hardy).

Teri McKeever is, as far as I can tell, the coachingest coach that ever coached.  She's the women's swimming coach and, as you might recall, Cal has quite a few women's swimmers kicking butt all across the land.





Rocking the sleeveless polo!  That's staunch!

Anybody who is coaching Natalie Coughlin must be good!

A Q+A:

DC: Aside from the athletes from Cal, how's the overall level of talent on the U.S. squad?

TM: This is really, just a great group. On the women's side, you've got someone like Dara (Torres) that you'll be able to learn from, it being her fifth Olympics; Natalie is one of the more seasoned people now; Katie Hawk had a lot of experience at this level, and Margaret Holzer, too. So there are tremendous learning opportunities if you're so inclined as a coach and as an athlete.

DC: As you said, Coughlin has been around for a while. How has your relationship evolved over the years? Is it more of a friendship today?

TM: No ... I think it's one of a partnership where there's mutual trust and respect, where you can tell each other hard things and know that you're working for a common goal. My job is to help her reach her goals and be truthful with her, and she gets to make decisions because it's her career, you know.

Another Q+A:

8 How come there are so few women’s coaches still?
Teri: I think the lifestyle of a coach is a hard one, or challenging one, whether you are male or female, whether a college coach or age group coach. It’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle. It’s difficult to hold some of the traditional female roles and be a coach at the same time.

12 Berkeley is a pretty unique place. What’s something about it that we don’t really know?
Teri: What people don’t realize is that Berkeley, in my opinion, is a perfect life experience because it has a little bit of everything, and in life you will encounter a little bit of everything. So if you can learn about different things now, it can help you as you move forward in life. With the diversity in the academic community, you are exposed to a lot of different things.

30. Martin Maric



Martin Maric
Country: Croatia
Event: Men's Track & Field - Discus
Hometown: Split Croatia
Years at Cal: 2008-present

Maric made the Croatian Olympic team in the discus on July 22 when he notched an Olympic "B" qualifying and personal-best mark of 205-8 (62.68 meters).During the 2008 collegiate season, heachieved All-America status at the NCAAchampionships when he recorded a mark of 185-10 (56.64m) in the discus, taking eighth overall. It was the second time he earned All-America honors in his collegiate career. Maric represented Croatia in both thediscus and the javelin at the World University Gamesin the summer of 2007, finishing eighth in the discus. A transfer from Georgia, he earned All-America honors as a sophomore in 2006 with a sixth-place standing in the javelin at the NCAA meet. He was also the SEC runner-up in the discus with a toss of 180-4. In 2004, Maric was second in the javelin and third in the discus at the CroatianChampionships. His best marksof the 2008 campaignwere 200-7 (61.13m)in the discus (at the Texas Relays) and 220-5(67.19m) in the javelin (at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational).

Q+A: What were first two years like at University of Georgia before you transferred to Cal?

Maric: "A good friend of mine from Croatia, a hammer thrower, he used to go to Georgia. I didn't want to go the U.S. not knowing anybody, so that's why my first choice was Georgia. He's back in Croatia now, training for the Olympics." Why did you transfer to Cal?

Maric: "One of the reasons I came to Cal was because a lot of discus throwers come and train here. I definitely needed that to see that I'm not as good as those guys so I can push harder. Definitely competing with world-class athletes helps a lot. It gives me more experience to get better."

Here he is rocking my world:



31. Dominik Meichtry



Dominik Meichtry
Country: Switzerland
Event: Men's Swimming - 200 Freestyle
Hometown: Rorschacherberg, Switzerland
Years at Cal: 2005-08

Meichtry will compete for Switzerland in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle in Beijing. At the 2008 NCAA championships, he swam the anchor leg of Cal's 400 free relay that placed third, swam the third leg of the Bears' 800 free relay that placed 10th, and was ninth in the 200 free, 11th in the 100 free and 12th in the 500 free. Meichtry reached the semifinals of the 200 free at the 2004 Olympics, and he finished 11th in the event at the 2007 World Championships. He also earned a silver medal in the 200 free at the 2004 World Cup in Durban, South Africa.

He trains with Gary Hall at The Race Club, where many other Cal Olympians train.

Person you admire and why?

Gary Hall who continuously has new goals and new achievements

Most Embarrassing Moment:

I dove into the pool for a 50 Breast and my speedo fell all the way down to my ankles



Another Q+A: Has Cal helped you as a swimmer?

Meichtry: "Absolutely. Training with Duje Draganja when he was here, all those other Olympic medalists, it gives you drive. Now having guys like Jernej (Godec) going for Slovenia and Martti (Aljand) going for Estonia, it's nice to be in that international environment where we can kind of push each other to the max. It's something I never had when I lived at home."

32. Peter Milkovich



Peter Milkovich
Country: Canada
Event: Men's Field Hockey Assistant Coach
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
Years at Cal: 2001-present

A volunteer assistant coach under Shellie Onstead at Cal, Peter Milkovich came to Berkeley in 2001 after an accomplished field hockey career with the Canadian men's national team. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Milkovich appeared in two Olympic Summer Games for Team Canada (Seoul 1988 and Sydney 2000) and played in every international game for Canada from the 1988 Summer Olympics up to 2000, when he retired. Currently, Milkovich doubles as an analyst for Headwaters Capital, LLC, analyzing risk-management on the international equities desk

His Wikipedia page.

An interview with him.  It is old.  He speaks of the future of field hockey.

AG: Do you think field hockey has a strong future in the USA: For women?
PM: For women the future is now – I believe the US has more girls playing the sport than any other country in the world. Unfortunately they do not play as much and there has been no top league within the US until recently with the development of the USAir League. I think with the popularity of the sport on the East Coast that there needs to be a serious league that develops and trains players outside the current university system for both the purpose of exposing good young players to higher levels of coaching and play and to develop the popularity of the sport in the local communities. With respect to the national team, I see no reason why they will not qualify for the World Cup and I believe they will give Argentina a very tough time at the next Pan-Am Games if they develop a strong penalty corner unit.

AG: And the future for the men’s game in the USA?
PM: With the men the development of the game seems bo be quite difficult due to longstanding traditions of boys not playing the sport in the US. Having said that I think hockey could grow as a regional sport on the west coast with its more positive climate conditions. As for the national team I will see shortly how they approach their training and measure how committed and willing they are to sacrifice for the opportunity to play in an Olympics or World Cup

33. Miguel Molina



Miguel Molina
Country: The Philippines
Event: Men's Swimming - 200 Individual medley, 200 Breaststroke
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Years at Cal: 2003-06

Molina will compete for the Philippines in the 200 individual medley and 200 breaststroke in Beijing. He swam in the 2004 Olympics for the Philippines, placing second in his heat in the 200 breast (2:19.19) and third in his heat in the 200 IM (2:05.28). Molina swam the anchor leg of Cal's school-record 800 free relay, set in 2006. Has the school's fourth-best all-time mark in the 200 IM (1:45.61, set in 2005) and seventh-best all-time mark in the 400 IM (3:49.13, set in 2004).

This dude's got the hair!

Interview with Berkeley:

Why did you choose to attend UC Berkeley?

My coach back in Tokyo said Berkeley would be a perfect fit for me, and he really recommended swimming under Nort (Thornton). I felt that the other schools I was seriously looking at, the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University, didn't have the reputation that Berkeley had in Tokyo.

What do you most enjoy about being at UC Berkeley?

I like the fact that you can meet 50 people a week at Cal and still not meet everyone in the whole college. In Tokyo, where I went to one of four international schools, there were 50 people who graduated from my class. I like being more anonymous. As for the swim team, I really like hanging around my teammates. They are a fun bunch. What I like the best is that we are one of the top teams in the nation.






34. Julie Nichols



Julie Nichols
Country: USA
Event: Rowing - Single Scull (alternate)
Hometown: Livermore, Calif.
Years at Cal: 1997-2000

Cal's Most Improved Rower in 1999, Nichols more recently competed in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Rowing Trials in the single scull. She did not win the best two out of three final series. In the 2003 World Championships, Nichols placed 13th in the C final of the lightweight single scull. In the lightweight women's double sculls, she took second in the 2005 World Championships and took ninth in the B final in the 2006 World Championships. She was also third in the LW2X at the 2006 Lucerne World Cup regatta.

US Rowing Bio.

Personal: Julie is a six-time national team member...She enjoys running and cycling...Her mother played field hockey and cricket at an elite level, and her uncle played badminton at the elite level for Australia.

Elite badminton! 

Here is an article on her being named to the US National Team.

There is apparently a movie star named Julie Nichols, making it a bit difficult to find recent articles on this Olympian.  Either way, good luck to her!

35. Amin Nikfar



Amin Nikfar
Country: Iran
Event: Track & Field - Shot Put
Hometown: Santa Clara, Calif.
Years at Cal: 2001-04

Nikfar won the shot put at the Flagstaff Invitational on June 26 with a personal-best throw of 65-4 (19.94m), earning him an Olympic `B' qualifying mark for the Olympics in Beijing and resetting his Iranian national record in the event. He will compete for Iran based on his father's Iranian heritage. Currently a volunteer coach for the Northern Arizona track & field team, Nikfar finished 21st at the 2003 NCAA championships with a mark of 57-01.50 mark (17.41m). His toss of 61-7.75 at the 2003 NCAA West Regional inked his name onto Cal's all-time list with the fifth-best mark all-time. In 2004, he would improve his collegiate-best mark to 61-11.00, which still stands fifth on Cal's all-time list. He also finished 21st at the 2004 NCAA championships (58-2.5). Nikfar won the shot put competition in 2004 for the Iranian National team at the first Asian Indoor Track & Field Championships with a throw of 18.33-meters. He also won the shot put competition at the 2003 Iranian National Championships.



Recent story on his Olympic trial success. 

Despite being born in northern California and living in America since birth, Nikfar will represent Iran when he travels to Beijing next month. Nikfar's father was born in Iran and moved to America when he was 30 with some cousins. Their intentions were just to come to the country for school and then move back, but instead Nikfar's father and a few of the cousins never moved back.

Nikfar has been to Iran a few times, but always for something shot put related and hasn't had time just to relax. However, this year Nikfar will head to Iran before the games to get in some final training with the team and then spend a month in the country after the Olympics to catch his breath.


36. Iva Obradovic



Iva Obradovic
Country: Serbia
Event: Rowing - Single Scull
Hometown: Novi Sad, Serbia
Years at Cal: 2005

A first-team All-American at Cal in 2005, Obradovic was a member of the Bears' 2005 NCAA championship team and, later that year, won the under-23 world championship in the women's single scull. In her first foray into the senior World Championships in 2005, Obradovic placed 10th in the B final. More recently, she took fourth in the 2007 European Championships and fifth in the 2008 Munich World Cup regatta in the single scull.

There is a brief interview in here.

Iva Obradovic (silver)
WR: How was the race?
Iva Obradovic: Very hard. I row better in the head wind because I'm kind of heavy and big, so the conditions were kind of difficult for me.
WR: Are you a bit disappointed to be second?
Iva Obradovic: Well, I'm not because I won the two previous races with a good margin.





Ok.  Part IV.  Finito.  Keep your ears to the ground for the fifth part, Better Know An Olympian V:  Leprechaun In The Hood.  Go Bears!