Who to watch: Olympic athletes with Oklahoma ties going to the Tokyo

Olympics
FILE - In this March 4, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks walk past the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Local Japanese sponsors have chipped in a record $3.3 billion to organize the postponed Tokyo Olympics. That's almost 60% of the income for the privately funded operating budget. With the games delayed for a year, sponsors will be asked to sign up again. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE – In this March 4, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks walk past the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Local Japanese sponsors have chipped in a record $3.3 billion to organize the postponed Tokyo Olympics. That’s almost 60% of the income for the privately funded operating budget. With the games delayed for a year, sponsors will be asked to sign up again. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The official start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is one day away.

While many Americans will be cheering on Team USA from their homes, there will be several Oklahomans competing for gold in the games.

Kenny Bednarek

Kenny Bednarek the US celebrates after winning the men’s 200m final during a Diamond League track meet in Doha, Qatar, Friday, May 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed)

Kenny Bednarek was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Bednarek is known for becoming the first American athlete to break 20 seconds in the 200m, and 45 seconds in the 400m on the same day at the 2019 National Junior College Athletic Association Championships.

He was also named the USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week for his record-setting performance.

Bednarek will be competing in the 200-meter, and 4x400m for US Track and Field at the Olympic Games.

Patrick Callan

Patrick Callan gets ready to compete in a men’s 100-meter freestyle semifinal during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Monday, June 14, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Patrick Callan, 21, grew up in Owasso, Oklahoma and attended Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa.

Callan is attending the University of Michigan and is enrolled in the Ross School of Business.

He is a three-time College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America All-American and is a two-time All Big Ten champion.

He has been All-Big Ten three times and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten.

Callan will be competing in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay for Team USA.

Adrianna Franch

FILE – In this April 9, 2021, file photo, Portland Thorns’ Adrianna Franch plays during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match against Kansas City in Portland, Ore. On top of the woes of quarantine, Franch had to spend four weeks of last season just trying to stay off her injured right knee. It was not an easy task for the 30-year-old Thorns goalkeeper known for her boundless energy. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman, FIle)

Adrianna Franch, 30, was born in Kansas, but she went to college at Oklahoma State University for graphic design and web page development.

As a goalkeeper for OSU’s soccer team, she set the record for shut-outs with 36, which is the sixth most in NCAA history.

She was also the first OSU player to make the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

Franch plays goalkeeper for the Portland Thorns FC soccer club, and will serve as a goalkeeper for U.S. Soccer.

In 2017 and 2018, she was named Goalkeeper of the Year for the National Women’s Soccer League, becoming the first player to ever win the award twice.

This will be Franch’s first Olympic Games.

Micha Hancock

Micha Hancock was born in McAlester, which is where her love of volleyball began. She started indoor youth club volleyball with McAlester Team Extreme before she moved to Edmond. After moving, she joined Oklahoma Peak Performance.

She helped the team win the bronze medal at the 2009 USA Vollyeball Girls’ Junior National Championships. One year later, she led Oklahoma Region Volleyball Association to the gold medal at the 2010 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships.

After graduating from Edmond Memorial High School, she attended Penn State.

While at Penn State, she was a three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association First-Team All American, and American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year in 2014.

She was also a back-to-back NCAA national champion at Penn State and was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 National Championship.

Hancock joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2016. During the Pan American Cup that year, she set tournament records for aces in a tournament and a single match.

She was also named MVP, Best Server, and Best Setter at the 2017 Pan American Cup where the US won gold.

Now, Hancock plans to help Team USA have success at the volleyball court in the Tokyo Olympics.

Yul Moldauer

Yul Moldauer after competing on the horizontal bar during the men’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials Saturday, June 26, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Yul Moldauer, 24, was born in Seoul, South Korea but he grew up in Arvada, Colorado.

After graduating from high school, he was accepted into the University of Oklahoma and became a member of OU’s men’s gymnastics team.

In 2017, he became the U.S. national all-around champion and the 2017 World bronze medalist on the floor exercise.

In the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, Moldauer finished first on parallel bars, second all-around, and third on floor and still rings.

Katie Nye

Katherine Nye, 22, was born in Bowlegs, Oklahoma but grew up in Oakland Township, Michigan.

After switching to weightlifting from gymnastics, Nye has taken the international weightlifting community by storm.

She currently holds nine American records and one Junior World Record.

In 2019, she was named the Junior World Champion, the Senior World Champion, and the Senior Pan American Champion. As a result, she became the youngest U.S. women’s world champion.

Meghan O’Leary

Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary, of United States, toss a water bottle to shore prior to competing in the women’s rowing double sculls final during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Meghan O’Leary grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, although she was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

While attending college at the University of Virginia, she competed in both softball and volleyball. In fact, she didn’t pick up rowing until 2010.

She worked for ESPN before leaving to pursue her Olympic dreams.

O’Leary trains at the US Rowing Training Center in Oklahoma City and the New York Athletic Club.

She competed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and finished in sixth place.

Janie Reed

Outfielder Janie Reed poses for a photo during media day at the USA Softball Women’s Olympic Team Selection Trials Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Janie Reed, 28, is an accomplished softball player from Placentia, California. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Oregon.

Reed was a silver medalist in the World Cup of Softball in 2015, 2016, and 2017. She was gold medalist in the 2017 Pan American Championship and the 2019 Pan American Games.

She also won gold medals in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Women’s World Championship in 2016 and 2018.

Reed served as a former assistant softball coach at the University of Oklahoma.

Keilani Ricketts

Pitcher Keilani Ricketts poses for a photo during media day at the USA Softball Women’s Olympic Team Selection Trials Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Although she is from California, Keilani Ricketts became a household name across Oklahoma softball circles.

Ricketts made waves when she became the pitcher for OU’s Softball team.

The 6’2″ pitcher was named USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, NFCA First Team All-American, First Team All-Big 12, and Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

In 2018, she was a gold medalist at the World Baseball Softball Confederation World Championship. During the tournament, she had 13 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched.

Following her success at OU, Ricketts became a gold medalist in the Pan American Games and Japan Cup in 2019.

Eliza Stone

Eliza Stone, 30, was born in Oklahoma City but grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She began fencing at 9-years-old after her father saw a poster for a fencing club.

She ended up going to Princeton University where she became a world-class fencer.

In 2013, Stone won both individual and team titles. She also won a silver medal at her first Pan American Championships.

After graduation, she served as a volunteer assistant coach for the men’s fencing team at Princeton.

In 2014, she was a member of the U.S. Women’s Saber Team that won gold at the Senior World Championships.

Other Notable Athletes with Oklahoma Ties

  • Allan Bower is a gymnast at the University of Oklahoma. He will serve as an alternate to the US men’s gymnastics team.
  • Kevin Durant is a former Oklahoma City Thunder player who will play for Team USA in men’s basketball.
  • Obi Egemano attended Edmond Memorial High School but will compete for the Nigerian national team in men’s basketball.
  • Tim Federowicz is a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he spent some time with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in the past. He will play for Team USA’s baseball team.
  • Jerami Grant is a former Oklahoma City Thunder player who will play for Team USA in men’s basketball.
  • Nicole Mendes attended the University of Oklahoma but will compete for Mexico in women’s softball.
  • Sydney Romero attends the University of Oklahoma but will compete for Mexico in women’s softball.
  • Ekpe Udoh was born in Edmond and attended Edmond Santa Fe High School, but he will compete for Nigeria in men’s basketball.

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