Seventeen Tar Heels representing four countries in Rio

Representing the United States, Turkey, India and New Zealand, former Carolina student-athletes will contend for medals in track and field, field hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s soccer.

The rest of the sports world will stop for nearly a month as more than 10,000 athletes from the around the world compete in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the Summer Olympic Games.

And 17 of those elite athletes are Tar Heels.

Representing the United States, Turkey, India and New Zealand, former Carolina student-athletes will contend for medals in track and field, field hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s soccer.

“We are proud to have so many students representing North Carolina and their countries at the 2016 Olympics,” said UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham.  “Our coaches recruit world-class students who come to Chapel Hill to compete at the highest level for national championships, conference championships and Olympic medals.  We will be watching and cheering them on during the Games.”

Nearly half of the Tar Heel Olympians will compete together as members of the U.S. women’s soccer team. The team features seven former Carolina student-athletes including Meghan Klingenberg, Crystal Dunn, Tobin Heath, Whitney Engen and Allie Long. Ashlynn Harris and Heather O’Reilly will serve as alternates on the team.

Long, Engen and Harris will be competing in their first Olympic Games. Three others are making a return trip, including O’Reilly who won gold medals in 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London; Heath who was a member of both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal teams; and Klingenberg who was an alternate in 2012.

Another former Carolina women’s soccer player, Katie Bowen, will be an alternate for the Football Ferns in Rio. Bowen was a member of the 2015 New Zealand World Cup team.

In field hockey, Jackie Briggs, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski, Kelsey Kolojejchick and Caitlin Van Sickle will represent in U.S. It will be the third Olympics for Dawson and Falgowski, and a first for Kolojejchick and Van Sickle. Briggs was an alternate in 2012, but did not compete.

Former Carolina basketball players LaToya Pringle Sanders and Harrison Barnes will both be making their Olympic debuts in Rio. Sanders will also make her Olympic debut as she plays for Turkey.

Barnes, who played for the Carolina men’s basketball team from 2010 to 2012, is the 14th Tar Heel selected to play men’s basketball in the Olympics.

Two other alumni will be competing in track and field.

U.S. runner Shalane Flanagan qualified for the marathon for the fourth consecutive year and Vikas Gowda will compete in the discus throw for India. It will be his fourth Olympics.

For a schedule of when Tar Heels are competing in Rio, click here.

Tar Heel Olympian updates from GoHeels.com

  • U.S. Soccer opens with 2-0 Olympic win over NZ: Heath assisted on the game-winning goal by Carli Lloyd in the 10th minute of play.
  • USA blanks France in women’s soccer Olympic group play 1-0: Heath contributed her second assist of the Olympics on Carli Lloyd’s 63rd minute game-winning goal.
  • Team USA opens field hockey Olympic play with win Over No. 2 Argentina: Briggs made 13 saves in the game and didn’t give up a goal until just over three minutes remained in the game. Dawson assisted on the second goal, which was scored by Chapel Hill’s Michelle Kasold, a Wake Forest alum, on a penalty corner tip-in.
  • USA men’s basketball opens with blowout win over China: Barnes pitched in eight points and four rebounds for the USA off the bench. Barnes hit 4 of 5 shot attempts and added an assist and a steal in 12:32 of action.
  • USA Field Hockey Team picks up another impressive win: Van Sickle scored the game-winning goal in the 2-1 win over Australia and goalkeeper Jackie Briggs played another outstanding defensive game. Fifth-ranked Team USA is now 2-0 in Rio with wins over the No. 2 (Argentina) and No. 3 (Australia) teams in the world rankings.
  • U.S. basketball tops Venezuela, 113-69: Barnes had four points and two rebounds in seven minutes off the bench.
  • Dunn’s goal and assist secures tie for USA: Dunn scored her first Olympic goal and 15th international goal overall to tie the game late in the first half.  She then assisted on Mallory Pugh’s second half goal that appeared destined to lift the U.S. to victory before Colombia tied the game in the final minute of regulation time for the 2-2 draw. The U.S. will play Sweden in the quarterfinal on Friday at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
  • U.S. basketball pulls away from Australia, 98-88: The USA recorded a 98-88 win but led by just five points, 85-80, with 3:57 remaining in the game.
  • U.S. field hockey stays unbeaten in Olympic play: The U.S. scored two goals in the first five minutes of play and rolled on to a 6-1 win over Japan 6-1 Wednesday in Olympic women’s field hockey action. Briggs has given up just three goals in the first three Olympic games.
  • U.S. nips Serbia, 94-91: Despite an 18-point lead in the first quarter, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team (4-0) had to battle Serbia (1-3) for a hard-fought, 94-91 win on Friday night at Carioca Arena 1 in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Sanders’ double-double leads Turkey over Belarus: Lara Sanders, better known as LaToya Pringle to North Carolina women’s basketball fans, notched a double-double on Thursday in helping send Turkey to a 74-71 victory over Belarus at the 2016 Olympics.
  • Sweden eliminates U.S. from Olympic soccer tournament: The U.S. Women’s National Team fell to Sweden 4-3 in a penalty shootout after drawing 1-1 through 120 minutes of U.S. dominated action at Mané Garrincha Stadium in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 Olympic Games.
  • Sanders propels Turkey into Olympic quarterfinals:Sanders notched a second straight double-double at the 2016 Rio Olympics, sending Turkey into the knockout stage after a 79-76 double overtime victory over Brazil on Saturday. Turkey faces Spain on Aug. 16 in a quarterfinal matchup at 1:30 p.m.
  • Flanagan takes sixth in marathon At Rio Olympics:Flanagan finished as the top American running the race in 2:25:06. She led the United States’ three participants who all finished in the top-10. It was Flanagan’s best finish at the Olympics in the marathon. She already has a bronze medal in the 10,000 from the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
  • U.S. survives France, 100-97:The win, the USA’s 22 straight win in Olympic play, earned the Americans the number one seed Group A and the quarterfinal on Aug. 17.


Updated August 16, 2016.