Four Villanovans travel to Tokyo as the university celebrates the newest chapter in the Olympic tradition


VILLANOVA, PA.—A longstanding tradition and source of great pride continues this week as the latest chapter in Villanova’s incredible Olympic history begins in Tokyo, Japan. Three former wildcats will represent their countries at the Olympics – triathlete Summer Rappaport (United States) together with athletes Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Ireland) and Patrick Tiernan (Australia). In addition, Villanova has the men’s Villa’s basketball head coach Jay Wright is the assistant coach of Team USA. Tiernan will take part in his second consecutive Olympic Games, while the other three Villanovans are each their first time Olympic athletes.

The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the XXXII Games. The Olympics, branded as Tokyo 2020, will take place July 21 through August 8 in Tokyo, Japan. The festivities will begin with an opening ceremony on Friday 23 July and will officially end with a closing ceremony on Sunday 8 August.

Villanova now has a total of 66 Olympians, with Rappaport, Cleirigh Buttner and Wright making the university’s all-time list. Since 1948, there has been at least one Villanovan at every Summer Olympics, with the group representing 15 countries and four continents and competing in nine different sports. The tradition began more than a century ago when James O’Connell competed in the 1908 London Olympics. There were 15 medalists along the way, including 10 gold medalists and five silver medalists.

Below are profiles of each of the four Villanova Olympians in Tokyo along with their competition schedules.

Athletics – Ireland
800 meters

When she arrived on campus in 2014, Cleirigh Buttner became part of the Irish pipeline of track and field athletes who have been coming to Villanova for more than 70 years. There are more than 30 members in that pipeline, and Cleirigh Buttner is one of the standouts of the group after a college career that saw her become a seven-time All-American and ten-time BIG EAST champion. She finished second over 800 meters in her senior year in the indoor NCAA championships and scored three top eight individual finishes in the NCAA during her career.

Cleirigh Buttner has surpassed herself time and again since graduating from Villanova in 2018, taking her career to new heights. Earlier this year, Cleirigh Buttner set an Irish record over 800 meters (2: 00.58) at the American Track League meeting in Fayetteville, Ark. took part in the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Poland in February and achieved a personal best of 4: 09.67 over 1500 meters at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in New York. Cleirigh Buttner was one of the 800m favorites at the Irish Life Health National Senior Championships last month, winning the silver medal.

Competition schedule: The women’s 800 meter heats will take place on Friday, July 30th at 9:55 a.m. in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29th at 8:55 p.m. EST) on the track in the Olympic Stadium. The competition will continue on Saturday, July 31st at 8:50 p.m. in Tokyo (7:50 a.m. Eastern Time) with semi-finals and will end with the finals on Tuesday, August 3 at 9:25 p.m. in Tokyo (8:50 am). 25 p.m. Eastern Time). ).

Triathlon – USA
Women singles, mixed relay

Summer (Cook) Rappaport was a member of the Villanova swimming and diving team for four years and a member of the cross-country skiing and track and field teams for two years. As a swimmer, she took top eight finishes in the BIG EAST Championships every four years of her college career while competing in distance competitions, and subsequently won All-BIG EAST and Mid-Atlantic All-Region Cross Country Awards . Her top placement on the track was a fourth place over 5000 meters at the Outdoor BIG EAST Championships.

After graduating from college, she joined the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program and began competing as an elite triathlete in March 2014. She was the first female athlete to qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Triathlon Team. In 2019, Rappaport qualified for the Olympics with a fifth place finish at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event, held at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo. Three days later, she teamed up with three others to win a bronze medal in the ITU World Mixed Relay Series. Rappaport also won a silver medal at the Cape Town ITU Triathlon World Cup in February 2019. She started the 2021 season with a sixth place at the Europe Triathlon Cup Melilla on April 18 and won a silver medal at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan on April 15 May. Her last tournament took place on May 23, when she finished ninth at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon.

Competition schedule: The women’s individual triathlon competition is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27th at 6:30 a.m. in Tokyo (Monday, July 26th at 5:30 p.m. EST), while the mixed triathlon relay is scheduled for Saturday, July 31st at 7:30 a.m. in Tokyo Tokyo begins (Friday, July 30th at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time).

Athletics – Australia
5000 meters, 10000 meters

Tiernan will be 22nd Villanovan will be competing in several Olympic Games as he represents Australia for the second time. He made his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and competed over 5000 meters. He is qualified for this event as well as for the 10,000 meters in Tokyo. In 2016 Tiernan was the first Villanova student athlete to take part in the Olympic Games while still enrolled in school, since American swimmer Maddy Crippen in 2000. Tiernan was the first athlete to receive this award since becoming a woman’s distance runner Vicki Huber received in 1988 Tiernan had a sensational year in 2016 when he took part in the Olympic Games in August and became the individual winner of the NCAA Cross Country in November.

As a college student, Tiernan became the first Villanova runner since 1964 to win a national cross-country title. During his Wildcats career, he was an eight-time All-American and eleven-time BIG EAST champion, and to date is the only male athlete in BIG EAST history to win four consecutive conference cross-country titles. Tiernan has received four All-America awards in cross-country and four over 5000 meters on the track, and even finished third in the outdoor NCAA championships in 2016. He goes with the top grade of 13: 12.68 in the 5000. to Tokyo 2020 meters and 27: 22.55 on the 10000 meters.

Competition schedule: The men’s 10,000 meters is a straight final that will be played on Friday, July 30th at 8:30 p.m. in Tokyo (7:30 a.m. Eastern Time). The prelims of the men’s 5000 meters will take place on Tuesday, August 3rd at 8:00 p.m. in Tokyo (7:00 a.m. Eastern Time) and the final on Friday, August 6th at 9:00 p.m. in Tokyo (8:00 a.m. Eastern Time) ) instead of.

Men’s basketball – United States
Assistant coach

Wright is the third Villanovan coach at the Olympic Games, alongside George Raveling and longtime swim coach Frank Keefe. Raveling was the assistant coach of Team USA at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul. Keefe was an assistant coach for the United States in 1984 and a team manager in 1988, coaching swimmers from the Virgin Islands and Bermuda in 2000.

Wright was announced as assistant coach for the U.S. men’s national team on October 11, 2018, supporting U.S. and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich with the U.S. national team leading the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup in China and the Olympics Summer Games in Tokyo included. Wright has a variety of previous coaching experiences in US basketball as a head coach or assistant coach. He led the US to an 8-0 record and gold medal at the 2005 World University Games as head coach and was assistant coach for the 2000 World Championships qualifying tournament team, which finished 4-1 and won the silver medal.

Wright coached a US basketball team of college colleagues to a fifth place in the 2007 Pan American Games and was co-head coach of the 2010 USA Select team that coached with the 2010 USA World Cup team. He returned as Popovich’s assistant coach for the 2016 USA Select Team, which trained with the 2016 US Olympic Team. Wright also served as Popovich’s assistant coach during the 2018 United States Men’s National Team Mini-Camp and the 2019 World Cup.

In 20 seasons as Villanova’s William B. Finneran Endowed Head Coach, Jay Wright has taken the Wildcats to new heights, including national NCAA championships in 2016 and 2018. On May 16, 2021, it was announced that the 1983 Bucknell University graduate would be attending the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall as part of his 2021 class of Fame. Villanova has recorded 233 wins over the past eight seasons, an average of 29.1 per year. In 2020-21, the Wildcats set an overall record of 18-7 and earned their seventh BIG EAST regular season crown since 2013. In January 2020, Wright was named Associated Press Men’s College Basketball Coach of the Decade.

Competition schedule: Team USA is in Group A in the preliminary round of the competition in Tokyo and plays against France (July 25, 9 p.m. in Tokyo), Iran (July 28, 1:40 p.m. in Tokyo) and the Czech Republic ( Saturday, July). 31 at 9 p.m. in Tokyo). The quarter-finals in men’s basketball are scheduled for Tuesday, August 3, followed by the semi-finals on Thursday, August 5. The men’s basketball games for gold and bronze will take place on Saturday, 7.

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