Golden Bears may not have won 25 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics like I had predicted (though Bears came close with 22), but the 52 Calympians created many memorable moments for Cal fans. Here are my picks for the rest of the top 10 best moments from Rio.
Moments 10 through 6 were revealed last week and can be found here.
5. Olivier Siegelaar finally wins an Olympic medal (Bronze) after two top 5 finishes in the last two Olympics
The Netherlands native finally won an Olympic medal in his 3rd try after falling short in two finals in the previous two Olympics. Olivier Siegelaar was able to win the Bronze medal in the men’s eight with the Dutch Eight. The Cal Men’s Crew alum and former national champion at Cal gave Cal Crew a shoutout during the medal ceremony when he formed a “C” with his hand over his heart. The Cal Mechanical Engineering alum was the lone Cal Crew Calympian to medal in the Rio 2016 games.
ROW ON YOU BEARS!
4. Toni-Ann Williams becomes 1st Jamaican gymnast and Ryan Patterson is the 1st South African gymnast in 50 years
A pair of Cal Gymnasts made history at the Rio 2016 games - Cal Women’s Gymnastics’ Toni-Ann Williams became the 1st Jamaican gymnast while Cal Men’s Gymnastics’ recent alum Ryan Patterson became the 1st South African gymnast in 50 years.
Despite being born in Maryland, Williams represented his parents’ native Jamaica in the Olympic Games. Her path to qualifying meant that she missed Cal Women’s Gymnastics’ run at the NCAA national championships in 2016, but she got the blessing and support of all of her teammates. By being the first Gymnast ever to represent Jamaica, Williams got a fan in fellow Jamaican Olympian in Usain Bolt. Williams ends her floor routine with the signature Usain Bolt gesture.
Ryan Patterson ended the long drought for South Africa in men’s gymnastics when he qualified for Rio 2106.
In addition to Williams and Patterson, Cal Women’s Gymnastics head coach Justin Howell and Men’s Gymnastics assistant coach J.T. Okada both became Calympians in Rio by being the “head coaches” for Jamaica and South Africa gymnastics, respectively (both delegations included merely one gymnast).
3. Cal remains Backstroke U: sophomore Kathleen Baker surprises with a Silver in 100 Back, senior Ryan Murphy sweeps 100 and 200 Back Golds
Continuing the splendid Cal backstroke legacy in the 2016 Rio games are sophomore Kathleen Baker and senior Ryan Murphy. In addition to Natalie Coughlin winning the 100 meter back Golds in 2004 and 2008 and Missy Franklin winning the 2012 Golds in both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke, Cal swimming have had a long list of Olympic backstroke winners - Peter Rocca (USA in 1976 - 100 and 200 Back Silvers), Bengt Baron (Sweden in 1980 - 100 Back Gold), Dave Wilson (USA in 1984 - 100 Back Silver), and Paul Klingsman (New Zealand in 1988 - 200 Back Bronze).
The backstroke legacy continues in 2016 Rio Games with Kathleen Baker winning the 100 Back Silver and Ryan Murphy winning Golds in 100 and 200 Back (as well as setting the world record during the leading 100 Back of the 4x100 Medley Relay). Jacob Pebley came close to winning a medal when he finished 4th in 200 Back.
2. Anthony Ervin and Nathan Adrian goes 1st and 3rd in Men’s 50 Free
Cal alum Anthony Ervin became the first men to win individual Golds 16 years apart and the oldest USA men’s swimming Gold medalist at age 35 when he captured the Gold in the 50 Free. Ervin upset his USA teammate and long time Cal pro group training partner in Nathan Adrian en route to the win. Ervin had previously won the Gold in the Sydney 2000 games in 50 Free.
Nathan Adrian picked up his 2nd individual Bronzes from Rio 2016. The 2012 Gold winner in 100 Free also finished 3rd in that event in the Rio 2016 games.
1. Cal swimmers dominated the last swimming events of Rio 2016 - 4x100 Medley Relays
A total of 6 Golden Bears won Gold medals in the final two swimming events of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games.
On the women’s side, Abbey Weitzeil swam the freestyle in the prelim while Kathleen Baker and Dana Voller swam the backstroke and butterfly legs of the 4x100 meter medley relay, respectively, as USA took the Gold. The other two swimmers in the final were Lily King (who went to Indiana) and Simone Manuel (who is returning Stanford after taking last year off as a sabbatical).
On the men’s side, Tom Shields swam the butterfly in the prelim while Ryan Murphy and Nathan Adrian swam the backstroke and butterfly legs of the 4x100 meter medley relay, respectively, as USA took the Gold (and maybe finally cap the glorious Olympic career of Michael Phelps). Murphy’s opening 100 meter also set the World Record, which is a pretty neat feat for the current Cal senior.
The Gold bonanza closed a very successful Calympian performances at the Rio 2016 games in swimming. Every USA Calympian won a medal with the exception of Jacob Pebley. Cal swimmers won 13 Golds, 4 Silvers, and 3 Bronzes across 13 events.
While none of the non-USA Calympian ended up on the podium, the number of athletes that honed their skills in Berkeley before making the Olympic games were once again impressive. Expect more of the same Cal Swimming success in the 2020 Tokyo games.
GO BEARS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!