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Olympic Stories From Around The Big 12
July 27, 2012

By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London will put us on that roller coaster ride of emotions we experience every four years. As the famous tag line for ABC's "Wide World Of Sports" reminded us each week, it's the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

The Big 12 will be well represented by over three dozen current and former athletes. New commissioner Bob Bowlsby, a member of the United States Olympic committee, will be on site.

One of the more inspiring stories involves former Iowa State distance runner Guor Marial. He has been cleared to compete in the Olympics in the marathon. That simple declarative sentence, though, does little justice to his story.

Marial, is a refugee from the civil war in the Sudan. He came to the United States in 2001 and has been living here under refugee status. He graduated from Iowa State in 2011 and lives in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Competing in the Olympics didn't appear possible just a few months ago. Marial is a "man without a country" because his newly independent homeland, the Republic of South Sudan, has yet to form a national Olympic committee. New countries in a region of constant conflict can't spend time or resources on sports.

"What a great thing for Guor," Iowa State coach Corey Ihmels told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a great thing because he was so deserving."

During the opening ceremonies (which figure to generate controversy because the International Olympic Committee has not approved a moment of silence to honor the 1972 Munich massacre), let's hope NBC's coverage gives some attention to Murial. The IOC decision means Marial will be an "independent athlete," with no flag or national identification on his clothing.

"I am fine with that because I will be carrying South Sudan and its flag in my heart," Marial said told the Tribune. "All South Sudan will see me, and it will give my country hope in the world community."

'Old' But Still Young Enough
Oklahoma assistant wrestling coach Jared Frayer is 33. A former wrestler with the Sooners, Frayer came close to representing the United States in world and Olympic trials but had done no better than a runner-up in qualifying. Frayer retired in 2010.

He returned to wrestling after the birth of his daughter, Khole, who has Down syndrome because, in his words, he did not to teach her lessons about struggles that he did not live out himself.

Frayer earned a spot on the U.S. men's freestyle wrestling team by upsetting Iowa's Brent Metcalf in the Olympic Trials. Metcalf had never lost in Iowa City, which is where the Olympic Trials were held.

The next-youngest member of the U.S. freestyle team is 28. Frayer has a second daughter due while he is in London. He plans to watch the delivery via Skype.

A Flying Leap
The men's high jump competition will be watched closely in Manhattan, Kans. Kansas State has a great chance of being home to a medal winner and possibly an Olympic champion.

Each of the three high jumpers who will represent the United States at the London Olympics train with Kansas State coach Cliff Rovelto.

Erick Kynard, a junior at K-State, won the NCAA Outdoor Championship in June and in 2011 was the NCAA Indoor champion in the high jump. Kynard bears a striking resemblance to NBA star Kobe Bryant, who will compete for Team USA in London. There's a possibility that NBC will try to get Kynard and Bryant together for a feature story on their look-a-like status.

See Sally Run
Texas Tech has seven former student-athletes competing in London. The list is impressive but there's little doubt that Sally Kipyego is tops on the list.

The most decorated athlete in Texas Tech history, Kipyego qualified for the 2012 Olympics in both the 5,000-meter run and the 10,000-meter run and will represent Kenya.

During her career in Lubbock, Kipyego captured an unprecedented nine NCAA National Championships. Most recently, Kipyego captured a silver medal at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in the 10,000-meter run where she ran a time of 30:50.4 - just .06 behind first place finisher Vivian Cheruiyot. Kipyego still holds six school records at Texas Tech while also holding the Big 12 Indoor Championship record in the 3,000-meter run at 9:09.83

One Runs, The Other Talks
First it was Michael Johnson, whose flying feet became famous at the 1996 Sumer Olympics by becoming the only man to win the 200 and 400 meters, He also became the only man to defend his 400 meter title.

Then it was Jeremy Wariner, another Baylor athlete, who became a four-time medalist by running the 400. Wariner claimed three golds (4x400, 4x400, 400 meters) and one silver (400 meters).

Wariner will compete in the Summer Olympics as a member of the United States' six-man relay pool for the 4x400. Johnson will be doing commentary for the BBC for his third consecutive Olympics.

Straight Shooters
Big 12 newcomers TCU and West Virginia each have teams that are perennially strong in NCAA rifle competition. That's evident by the fact that both schools are well represented in the Summer Olympics.

Rising senior Petra Zublasing and former Mountaineer Nicco Campriani will be shooting for Italy, while WVU head coach Jon Hammond will be competing for the United Kingdom.

In addition to those three, the United States rifle team is led by its coach, formerWVU shooter Dave Johnson. WVU alum, Eric Uptagrafft (1992, 1993) is a member of the American roster and a two-time Olympian.

TCU's Sarah Scherer will participate in her first Olympics in the 10-meter air rifle competition. This past season, she was the NCAA champion in the smallbore competition plus was an All-American in both air rifle and smallbore.

Olympic Links
Marquise Goodwin says he's both a football player and a world-class long jumper. Goodwin is part of a large contingent of current and former Texas student-athletes.

Gwen Wentland, a four-time All-American at Kansas State who resides in Manhattan, will serve as a women's jumps coach for the U.S. Olympic team in London.

Coleman Scott, a former Oklahoma State wrestler, was the last competitor to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in freestyle wrestling.

A two-time gold medalist and now three-time coach of Team USA, Oklahoma State coach John Smith hopes his experience will help other wrestlers achieve the Olympic dream.

Oklahoma's Brittany Borman, a two-time NCAA champion in the javelin, came through with a clutch performance to earn a spot on the Olympic team. Her competitive spirit was evident at an early age.

Former Oklahoma wrestler Sam Hazewinkel and his father Dave Hazewinkel are the first father and son to each make the U.S. Olympic team.

Kansas has four athletes competing in the Olympics: Diamond Dixon (track, 4x400 relay alternate), USA; Sasha Kaun (men's basketball), Russia; Liana Salazar (women's soccer), Colombia; Ingrid Vidal (women's soccer), Columbia.

Seven athletes with ties to the West Virginia University rifle and track & field teams are prepped and ready for competition at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.


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