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2016 Rio Olympic Games: Calympian medal predictions, a Cal record high 25

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CGB’s self proclaimed Olympics “expert”, Ruey Yen, is predicting that the 42 Calympians will win 25 medals. This will be the best Calympic ever.

Olympics Day 13 - Women's Football Final - Match 26 - USA v Japan
Alex Morgan should win another Olympic Gold medal with the United State women’s national team.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is tonight. A full slate of action will commence tomorrow on Saturday, August 6th. Since I have been writing the Calympian profiles for the 42 Cal athletes (again, I am counting US swimmer Cierra Runge despite her transfer to Wisconsin, unlike the official Cal Athletics info), I figure it is time to make some predictions on how many Calympians will medal.

To make things easier, I will organize the Calympians and their events into different tiers of medaling probability. I will also not distinguish between the Gold, Silver, and the Bronze because the margin for those, especially in swimming is often razor thin.

The most successful Calympics result has been the 2012 London games. With Missy Franklin’s 5 medals and Roser Tarrago’s 1 medal added, the Golden Bears took home 23 medals. Both Franklin and Tarrago did not commit to Cal until after that Olympic games. Exceeding 17 medals would make this Olympic the best one ever for Calympians.

The bulk of the Calympians and medaling opportunities are from swimming. Check out Team USA’s 2016 attempt for a viral video with carpool karaoke.

The 11 USA swimming Calympians are Missy Franklin,in a car with Dana Vollmer, Abbey Weitzeil, and Cierra Runge; Anthony Ervin in a car where they like to switch seats, Kathleen Baker (who didn’t grab the soft serve ice cream at the cone), and in a car of Pokemon Go playing Golden Bears: Nathan Adrian, Tom Shields, Ryan Murphy, Josh Prenot, and Jacob Pebley (just a normal day for that group of Golden Bears who all train in Berkeley still).

There are some uncertainty with respect to the roster for the 4x100 medley relays. Typically, the top two finishers for the 100 meter event will swim the heat and the final, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I will make this assumption in my predictions below. I will also note that the swimmers who swim in the morning prelim will also receive a medal, it is not just the 4 athletes in the final of the relay.

Okay, it’s time for my predictions (cue the drum roll):

Essential “locks” to medal in Rio

From the team competitions:

Alex Morgan - USA Women’s Soccer; anything less than a Gold would be deemed as a disappointment

Carli Lloyd - USA Women’s Volleyball; a Gold is not a lock, but a medal should be

From the individual competitions:

Ryan Murphy (USA) - 100 Back

Ryan Murphy (USA) - 200 Back

Ryan Murphy (USA) - 4x100 Medley relay; USA has never not win the Gold in this event

Nathan Adrian (USA) - 100 Free

Nathan Adrian (USA) - 4x100 Free relay

Nathan Adrian (USA) - 4x100 Medley relay

Nathan Adrian (USA) - 50 Free; my least sure guess in this tier

Anthony Ervin (USA) - 4x100 Free relay

Tom Shields (USA) - 4x100 Medley relay; probably will swim in the prelim

Missy Franklin (USA) - 4x200 Free relay

Cierra Runge (USA) - 4x200 Free relay

Dana Vollmer (USA) - 4x100 Free relay

Dana Vollmer (USA) - 4x100 Medley relay; probably will swim in the prelim

Abbey Weitzeil (USA) - 4x100 Free relay

Kathleen Baker (USA) - 4x100 Medley relay; probably will swim in the prelim

Yes, I just predicted 17 LOCKS for medals, putting 2016 Rio at the minimum in a tie as the best Calympic games.


Very good chance to medal in Rio

Athletes in this tier have a good chance to medal in their events, I would say with about ~75% probability. They are in this tier due to either inexperience or some uneven results in this past year.

From the team competitions:

Dora Antal - Hungary Women’s Water Polo

Anna Illes - Hungary Women’s Water Polo

Roser Tarrago - Spain Women’s Water Polo

Behind the favorite of USA Women’s Water Polo, both Hungary and Spain have good shots to medal, but I can also see the two facing off against one another in the Bronze medal match.

From the individual competitions:

Missy Franklin (USA) - 200 Back

Missy Franklin (USA) - 200 Free

I would not be shocked if Missy Franklin dominates both these two races, but she’s had to battle inconsistency in the last year or so.

Josh Prenot (USA) - 200 Breast

Prenot set the American Record at the Trials, but that win was kind of a surprise.

Lauren Boyle (New Zealand) - 800 Free

Boyle is a good bet to medal in her 3rd Olympic, she placed 2nd in this event at the Worlds behind American star Katie Ledecky

Dana Vollmer (USA) - 100 Fly

Vollmer is the defending Gold medalist in this event from 2012 London.


Realistic chance to medal in Rio

It would not be shocking if these athletes find their way to the podium, but they may also just fall short. These athletes are more likely to win the Bronze than the Gold, although I would predict at least a Silver out of this group. I give them about 20% chance to medal.

From the team competitions:

John Mann - USA Men’s Water Polo

Luca Cupido - USA Men’s Water Polo

From the individual competitions:

Abbey Weitzeil (USA) - 50 Free

Abbey Weitzeil (USA) - 100 Free

Anthony Ervin (USA) - 50 Free

Tom Shields (USA) - 100 Fly

Jacob Pebley (USA) - 200 Back

Olivier Siegelaar (Netherlands) - Eights

Caileigh Filmer (Canada) - Eights

Will Dean (Canada) - Quadruple Sculls


Should be a finalist or knock out round participant in Rio

The athletes listed in this tier may be able to find their way to the finals of their event but are long shots to finish in the top 3.

Advance to the knockout rounds:

Betsy Hassett - New Zealand Women’s Soccer

Danny Barrett - USA Rugby Sevens

Finalists of the race:

Kathleen Baker (USA) - 100 Back; unfortunately, I am predicting the end of streak of a Golden Bear winning this event after Natalie Coughlin won it in 2004, 2008 and Missy Franklin won it in 2012

Farida Osman (Egypt) - 50 Free

Farida Osman (Egypt) - 100 Fly; Farida would need to swim a personal best to make the final, but I think she has it in her

Lauren Boyle (New Zealand) - 400 Free

For the rowers below, I think they may need to go through the repechage to make the finals, diminishing their ability to win that last race.

Nareg Guregian (USA) - Coxless Pair

Marko Marjanovic (Serbia) - Double Sculls

Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk (Poland) - Single Sculls


So by my count, there are 17 locks, 8 good chance (that’s 6 more medals), 10 long shots (2 medals), then 8 finalists.

I predict a total of 25 Olympic medals to be won by our Calympians (24 if you don’t count Cierra Runge). We shall find out in the coming weeks whether my educated guess is anywhere close to being accurate. As many as 35 Olympic medals is even kind of realistic.

Finally, I will list below the rest of the Calympian competitors just for completeness.

Happy to be there in Rio

These athletes may not have a realistic shot of medalling, but they can always say that they are Olympians.

Byeong Hun An (South Korea) - Golf

Noemie Thomas (Canada) - 100 Fly

Damir Dugonjic (Slovenia) - 100 Breast

Long Gutierrez (Mexico) - 100 Fly

Stephanie Au (Hong Kong) - 4x100 Medley relay

Camille Cheng (Hong Kong) - 4x100 Medley relay

Camille Cheng (Hong Kong) - 200 Free

Yvette Kong (Hong Kong) - 4x100 Medley relay

Yvette Kong (Hong Kong) - 100 Breast

Yvette Kong (Hong Kong) - 200 Breast

Jahvid Best (St. Lucia) - 100 meter

Milan Ristic (Serbia) - 110 hurdle

Inika McPherson (USA) - High Jump

David Torrence (Peru) - 5000 meter

Lily Zhang (USA) - Women’s Table Tennis single

Lily Zhang (USA) - Women’s Table Tennis team

For the two Cal gymnasts, they have accomplished quite a feat by just qualifying. Being the first Jamaican gymnast at the Olympic games and the first South African gymnast in 50 years to be in the Olympics for Toni-Ann Williams and Ryan Patterson, respectively, should give them memories and the experience of a lifetime.

Toni-Ann Williams (Jamaica) - Gymnastics

Ryan Patterson (South Africa) - Gymnastics

GO BEARS!