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Athletics

Tar Heel Olympians set for action

Thirteen Tar Heels, including four current Carolina students, are among the more than 10,000 athletes set to compete in Tokyo as part of the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Three men standing near the Olympic rings.
Tar Heels in Tokyo (L to R): Aranza Vazquez, coach Yaidel Gamboa and Anton Down-Jenkins.

Thirteen Tar Heels, including four current Carolina students, are among the more than 10,000 athletes set to compete in Tokyo as part of the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Anton Down-Jenkins, a rising senior at Carolina, and Aranza Vazquez, a rising sophomore, will represent their home countries in 3-meter springboard diving, with Down-Jenkins competing for New Zealand and Vazquez for Mexico. They’re the first Tar Heels to compete in diving at the Olympics.

Former Carolina student-athletes will compete in baseball (Tim Federowicz and Ryder Ryan for the U.S.), track and field (Kenny Selmon in the 400m hurdles for the U.S.) and soccer (Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath for the U.S., Lucy Bronze and Lotte Wubben-Moy for Great Britain, and Katie Bowen for New Zealand).

Other Tar Heel Olympians include sophomore Camilla Feeley (rhythmic gymnastics), junior Emma Schieck (Paralympics sitting volleyball) and Naya Tapper ’16 (women’s rugby).

Baseball

In the sport’s first Olympic appearance since 2008, the U.S. team includes two former Carolina players, catcher Tim Federowicz (2006-08) and pitcher Ryder Ryan (2015-16), both of whom also attended high school in the state of North Carolina, at Apex and North Mecklenburg, respectively. Federowicz, a member of the 2006 All-College World Series Team as a Tar Heel, has played in the Major Leagues with nine different teams and is currently on a minor league contract in the Dodgers organization. Ryan is currently with the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express.

Previous Tar Heel Olympic baseball competitors: B.J. Surhoff 1984, Scott Bankhead 1984

Diving

Two current Tar Heels will compete for their home countries in the 3-meter springboard. Aranza Vazquez, the Atlantic Coast Conference Female Diver of the Year in 2021, will make her first Olympic appearance, competing for her home country of Mexico. Anton Down-Jenkins, who also won ACC Diver of the Year honors as the Tar Heels swept the honor, is the first male diver from New Zealand to qualify for the Olympics since 1984.

A Tar Heel is also part of the New Zealand coaching staff, with Carolina diving coach Yaidel Gamboa acting as an assistant coach.

Previous Tar Heel Olympic diving competitors: None

Women’s soccer

The U.S. team includes two Tar Heels who are Olympic veterans in Crystal Dunn and Tobin Heath. Dunn (2010-13), who helped Carolina to an NCAA title in 2012 and also won the MAC Hermann Trophy that year, is an Olympian for the second time after also competing in Rio. Heath (2006-09) was a three-time NCAA Champion at Carolina and is making her third appearance in the Olympic Games. She won a gold medal in London in 2012 and also played in Rio.

Katie Bowen (2012-15) is another Olympic veteran. She’ll make her second appearance representing New Zealand after she was an alternate in 2012. At Carolina, she was a teammate of Dunn’s on the 2012 NCAA Championship squad. She has been a member of New Zealand’s National Team since 2011.

Additionally, two Tar Heels — Lotte Wubben-Moy (2017-19) and Lucy Bronze (2009) — will make their Olympic debuts for Great Britain. Bronze currently plays for Manchester City and has been a member of England’s National Team since 2013. Wubben-Moy plays for Arsenal and made her first National Team appearance in the spring of 2021.

Previous Tar Heel Olympic women’s soccer competitors: Laurie Gregg 1996; Tisha Venturini 1996; Kristine Lilly 1996, 2000, 2004; Mia Hamm 1996, 2000, 2004; Carla Werden Overbeck 1996, 2000; Staci Wilson 1996; Cindy Parlow 1996, 2000, 2004; Tiffany Roberts 1996; Tracy Noonan 1996; Siri Mullinix 2000; Lorrie  Fair 2000; Catherine Reddick 2004; Heather  O’Reilly 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 (alternate); Lindsay Tarpley 2004, 2008; Lori Chalupny 2008; Tobin Heath 2008, 2012, 2016; Kacey White 2008; Robyn Gayle 2008, 2012 (Canada); Meghan Klingenberg 2012 (alternate), 2016; Katie Bowen 2016, (New Zealand); Whitney Engen 2016; Crystal Dunn 2016; Allie Long 2016; Ashlyn Harris 2016 (alternate)

Track and field

Kenny Selmon, a five-time All-America honoree as a Tar Heel from 2014-18, will make his first Olympic appearance after placing second in the men’s 400-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June. His finals time of 48:08 was a personal best.

Selmon is the first Tar Heel to represent the U.S. in men’s track and field since 2008.

Previous Tar Heel Olympic men’s track and field competitors: Harry Williamson 1936; Bill Albans 1948; Chunk Simmons 1948, 1952; Jim Beatty 1960; Charles Foster 1976; C.J. Hunter 1996; Ken Harnden 1996, 2000; Allen Johnson 1996, 2000, 2004; Eddie Neufville 1996, 2000
Curtis Johnson 2000; Dominic Demeritte 2000, 2004, 2008; Vikas Gowda 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 (India)

Follow @GoHeels on Twitter for updates on Tar Heels throughout the games.