Aug. 1, 2004
Ten participants in the upcoming 2004 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 11-29) have ties to Notre Dame, including rising junior butterfly swimmer Christel Bouvron (Singapore) and two members of the incoming freshman class: fencing sabre Mariel Zagunis (U.S.) and individual-medley swimmer Andrew MacKay (Cayman Islands). Three former Notre Dame women's soccer players - U.S. starters Kate Sobrero Markgraf and Shannon Boxx and Mexico's team captain Monica Gonzalez - also are set to do battle in Athens, as is former Notre Dame women's basketball great Ruth Riley (U.S.) and four-time All-America men' epee fencer Jan Viviani (U.S., team alternate). Peta Gaye Dowdie - who has served the past two years as a volunteer track coach with the Irish - also will compete for her native Jamaica in the 4x100 relay. Jeff Smoke, a 2000 Notre Dame graduate who was not a collegiate varsity athlete, will be the third member of his family to compete for the U.S. in the Olympics in sprint kayaking.
Notre Dame is one of four schools with multiple representatives on the U.S. women's soccer Olympic team (the others are North Carolina, Santa Clara and Florida) - with ND and UNC being the only schools with two or more alums who are regulars in the U.S. starting lineup. Notre Dame and Virginia are the only schools that have an alum on both the U.S. women's soccer and women's basketball teams. Notre Dame also is one of four schools with multiple former/current fencers among the U.S. team's full 15-member roster (the others are St. John's, Columbia and Princeton, with ND and Princeton being the only schools with a representative on both the U.S. men's and women's fencing teams). The 2004 Olympics will see an all-time high of six former or current Notre Dame female student-athletes - Bouvron, Zagunis, Sobrero, Boxx, Gonzalez and Riley - competing on the world's biggest stage.
Check back to und.com throughout the coming weeks for a variety of offerings concerning Notre Dame's Olympians (including an updated list of all-time Olympians from Notre Dame). Brief notes on the 2004 participants follow below:
* Christel Bouvron - will swim the 200 butterfly in Athens, after competing in the 100 and 200 butterfly at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney ... has participated in Southeast Asia Games, Asian Games (8th in 200 fly in '02) and Commonwealth Games since 1997 ... set Singapore national record in 400 freestyle ... competed at the world championships in 1998, 1999 and 2002 and the Asian Championships in 1996 and 2000 ... set national under-17 record in 400 and 800 freestyle ... set national under-14 record in 100, 200 and 400 freestyle, as well as 100 and 200 butterfly ... attended Raffles Girls' Secondary in Singapore ... earned 2003 all-BIG EAST honors after placing second in the 100 butterfly (54.57) and was a member of the third-place 200 medley relay (1:43.78) and the 800 freestyle relay team (leadoff leg) ... narrowly missed qualifying for the 2003 NCAA Championships ... posted the fastest 500 time on the 2003 Irish roster with a 4:57.33 at the BIG EAST meet ... had the fourth-fastest 100 freestyle and the sixth-fastest 200 freestyle on the '03 team ... also placed 8th in the 200 butterfly and 13th in the 500 freestyle at the '03 BIG EAST meet ... swam 3rd leg of winning 400 medley relay at 2004 BIG EAST Championships (3:44.81), also placing 8th in the 100 butterfly (56.82).
* Mariel Zagunis - considered one of the top sabre fencers in the world (for all age groups), Zagunis signed with Notre Dame in 2003 but delayed her admission in order to make a run at qualifying for the Olympic Games ... the various formulas for determining entrants originally called for just two women's sabre fencers from U.S. and Zagunis heartbreakingly missed out on qualifying by a single touch (sisters Sada and Emily Jacobson, from Dunwoody, Ga., earned those berths) ... Nigeria later decided not to fill its spot in the field and that opened a position for Zagunis, whose Olympic dream will be fulfilled later this month ... recently placed 6th at a Senior World Cup event in Orleans, France, while helping U.S. women's sabre team take 2nd at World Championships ... the 19-year-old is a native of Beaverton, Ore., attended Valley Catholic HS and trains at the Oregon Fencing Alliance under U.S. women's sabre national team coach and former ND assistant coach Ed Korfanty (three rising sophomore sabres on the ND fencing team also are products of OFA, including '04 NCAA champ Valerie Providenza, plus Angela Vincent and Patrick Ghattas) ... as just a 15-year-old, she won the 2001 World Junior Championship to join foilist Iris Zimmermann as the second U.S. fencer ever to win two World Championship titles (Kazimieras Campe and Ray Sexton are the only other U.S. fencers to claim the elite World Championship titles) ... beat teammate Amelia Gaillard in '01 World Junior Championship round-of-8, then beat the world's #2-ranked sabre Anna Lise Touya of France in semifinal (15-13) before bearing her teammate Sada Jacobson in the 15-11 final ... recently lost to Jacobson in the final bout of the Junior/Under-20 World Championships (15-6), after beating her club teammate Caitlin Thompson (the cadet-level/under-17 world champ) in the round-of-32 (15-8), Leonore Perrus of France in the round-of-8 (15-12) and Sophia Velikaia of Russia in the semifinals (15-9) ... ranked 6th in the world (Sada Jacobson is #1 and Emily #8) ... named the 2001 female athlete of the year by the U.S. Fencing Association ... her many unique accomplishments include becoming: the first fencer to win three World Championship titles in one season (the 2001 under-17 and under-20 individual titles, plus the under-20 team title); the first U.S. fencer to hold four World Championship titles in a span of only nine months (also the 2000 overall team title); the only U.S. fencer to win multiple Junior World Cup trophies ('02-'04), based on point system from several events; the youngest fencer ever to win an FIE World Championship gold medal and youngest ever to win three in one season; the first U.S. fencer ever to finish atop the overall World Cup point standings ('02); and the recordholder for most medals in junior and cadet World Cup Championships (8) ... her other top '01 finishes that helped her earn USFA female athlete of the year included finishing ranked No. 1 in the U.S. under-17, under-20 and senior/overall rankings, winning the Junior Olympic title and the under-16 national title ... just two previous U.S. fencers ever had won Junior World Cup titles (sisters Felicia and Iris Zimmerman, in '95 and '97 foil) ... combined with Sada Jacobson as first U.S. 1-2 finish in the World Cup standings ... her cadet world title in '01 included a thrilling 15-14 win over Leonore Perrus to reach the gold-medal round, beating the Ukraine's Dariy Nedachdouvska in the final bout (15-10) ... played soccer since the age of five, competing on various state-select teams ... her brother Marten Zagunis is a top sabre fencer at Penn State ... the women's sabre bouts at the Olympics will be contested on Aug. 17, in a single-elimination format (there is no team competition in women's sabre at the '04 Olympics).
* Andrew MacKay - will compete in the 200 and 400 individual medley events in Athens ... first swimmer from Cayman Islands ever to compete in the Olympic Games ... several of the world's top swimmers train in the Cayman Islands and he is coached by former U.S. great Dave Kelsheimer ... failed to qualify for the Olympics in his top event (100 backstroke) but then qualified in the 200 IM (at the 2003 Caribbean Championships, in Jamaica) ... later improved his 200 IM time and posted another Olympic qualifying time in the 400 IM, at the '03 Pan Am Games ... has become a local legend in his hometown of Grand Cayman ... holds Cayman national records in long-course meters in all backstroke, breaststroke and IM events, as well as the 100-meter butterfly .. at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, he registered the fastest start reaction time (.63 seconds) in the entire 78-swimmer field in the 200 IM (he finished 48th) ... his extensive international experience includes competing at the 2002 World Short Course Championships in Moscow, reaching the semifinals at the '02 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and becoming the first Caymanian to advance to the finals in the Pan American Games ('03) ... earned 31 medals (14 gold, 11 silver, 6 bronze) at the CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Agreement) Swimming Championships, setting six records on the way ... medaled in nine events (4 gold, 5 silver) in the Island Games, setting three records (100 back mark still stand ... top long-course times include 2:08.15 in the 200 IM, 4:32.96 in the 400 IM, 58.69 in the 100 back, 2:07.96 in the 200 back, and 57.73 in the 100 fly ... in short-course meters, his bests include 2:06.72 in the 200 IM, 56.80 in the 100 back, and 2:02.17 in the 200 back ... the Caymans are a trio of islands located 480 miles south of Miami in the quiet western Caribbean ... the Cayman Islands are described as "a premier destination for discriminating travelers, honeymooners and families" and are world-renowned for beaches and diving spots (also ranked as world's 5th-largest financial center).
* Kate Sobrero Markgraf - six-year veteran of the U.S. Women's Soccer National Team, she has been a started for virtually all of the past six years, mostly at center or left back (where she started in today's 3-1 win over China, in Connecticut) ... only six field players on the U.S. '04 Olympic roster (Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Cindy Parlow) have played more games in their careers than Sobrero's 120 ... the U.S. roster includes multiple players from ND, UNC, SCU and Florida, plus UMass, Monmouth, Dartmouth, Stanford, California and UVa ... made her first appearance with the full national team in 1998 ... was first called into U.S. came as an ND sophomore ('95) ... started at central defense for historic 1999 World Cup championship team, also playing alongside Fawcett on 2000 squad that claimed Olympic silver medal ... began seeing time at outside back in '02 and was second on the U.S. team in 2003 with 1,620 minutes played (the '03 team placed 3rd at the World Cup) ... was an all-star performer and received league's community service award during her three-year career with the Boston Breakers in the Women's United Soccer Association ('01-'03) ... three-year All-American at Notre Dame, starting 96 games as outside back ... named defensive MVP at 1995 College Cup, after helping ND win NCAA title ... was featured on the cover of Soccer America following the NCAA title ... scored game-winning goal (on a header) in '94 NCAA semifinal vs. Portland ... named the BIG EAST Conference defensive player of the year as a senior ... had 16 goals and 26 assists as a junior forward while leading Detroit Country Day High School to the 1991 state championship ... native of Bloomington Hills, Mich. ... married former Providence College soccer player Chris Markgraf on Oct. 31, 2003 ... threw out the first ball at a Detroit Tigers game following the 1999 Women's World Cup ... her image is depicted in a mural at the Detroit Airport, honoring accomplished individuals from the state of Michigan ... she has her own website at: www.crazysobsonline.com ... the U.S. schedule in Athens is as follows (all games shown live on NBC affiliates: Aug. 11 vs. Greece, in Heraklio (11:00 a.m. EDT, MSNBC); Aug. 14 vs. Brazil, in Thessaloniki (11:00 a.m. EDT, CNBC); Aug. 17 vs. Australia, in Thessaloniki (11:00 a.m. EDT; MSNBC); Aug. 20 quarterfinals, site TBA (11:00 a.m. EDT, MSNBC/Telemundo); Aug. 23 - semifinals, in Heraklio or Patra (11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. EDT, MSNBC/Telemundo); Aug. 26 bronze-medal game, in Athens ( 11:00 a.m. EDT, MSNBC/Telemundo); Aug. 29 gold-medal game, in Athens (2:00 p.m. EDT, NBC/Telemundo).
* Shannon Boxx - continues to add to one of the greatest stories in U.S. women's soccer history, as she rapidly has become what many consider to be the best defensive midfielder in the world ... had never even been active in the National Team player pool until weeks before the 2003 Women's World Cup, attending the final training camp before the roster was named ... not only earned a roster spot for the '03 WWC but went on to be a starter and earned a spot on the exclusive 11-player all-World Cup team ... scored in pair of pre-World Cup tuneup games and then scored again in the WWC opener vs. eventual runner-up Sweden (3-1), becoming the first player ever to score in her first three games with the National Team (Michelle Akers had been the only one to score in her first two games) ... earned another prestigious honor when she was named to the FIFA Women's World Stars Team - and then named captain of that team, to top it off - with the World Stars team posting a 3-2 victory over Germany in Paris at the recent FIFA Centennial Celebration (she was able to spend several days in Paris with her fiancee Sean Taketa, with their wedding set for April '05) ... played all 90 minutes, and had three strong scoring chances, for the World Stars vs. Germany (May 20, at Stade de France) ... already has totaled 9 goals in 23 games with the U.S., despite playing at defensive midfielder ... her goals include a game with a hat trick, a skilled volley vs. Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying and a scored that helped secure the WWC bronze-medal win over Canada (3-1) ... had attended minor U.S. training camps in '01 and '02 and was pare of the U.S. Under-21 National Team pool way back in '95 and '96 ... her toughness and ball-winning skills have drawn comparisons to the legendary Akers ... has been a top target player for the U.S. on set pieces ... played in the WUSA from '01-'03 with the San Diego Spirit and New York Power (she only missed 20 minutes in the '01 season and was a '03 WUSA all-star) ... has been accepted to Pepperdine's master's program in clinical psychology ... helped ND win the 1995 NCAA title and set team record with 101 career games played ... ranks 10th in the ND record book with 135 career points (39 goals, 57 assists) ... her collegiate honors included Freshman All-America (from Soccer America), all-BIG EAST from '95-'97 and the '98 BIG EAST Scholar Athlete Award ... native of Redondo Beach, Calif., who earned Parade All-America honors while playing at South Torrance HS ... her sister Gillian played on the U.S. softball team that won the 1996 Olympic title.
* Monica Gonzalez - sixth-year founding member of Mexican Women's National Team, which posted an historic 2-1 win over Canada in Olympic qualifying (that loss kept current ND defender Melissa Tancredi and her Canadian teammates out of the Olympics) ... serves as captain of the emerging Mexican team that began with mostly American players who had Mexican ancestry but now includes a strong base of Mexican-born talent ... played on Mexico's 1999 World Cup team (Mexico did not qualify in '03) ... has returned to Alumni Field during the last three spring seasons for exhibitions versus her alma mater (ND won 3-2 in '02 and 3-1 in '03 while Mexico won the '04 game, 3-2) ... versatile player during ND career, seeing time at forward, midfield and defense ... emerged as top center back in 2001, earning rare combination of All-America and Academic All-America honors (graduated with 3.39 GPA as double major in management information systems and Spanish) ... missed all of '98 season due to knee injury and returned in '01 for fifth year of eligibility ... has physical 5-11 frame and strong left foot ... played on ND teams that advanced to three College Cup semifinals ('97, '99, '00), including 2000 runner-up team that was top-ranked for most of season ... helped Irish lead nation with 0.39 goals-against avg. in 2000 ... played two seasons in WUSA, with Boston Breakers ('03 all-star) ... was a prep All-American at Plano (Texas) East HS.
* Ruth Riley - recently was added to the 12-player U.S. Women's Basketball team as a replacement for injured DeLisha Milton-Jones ... played in eight games during Team USA's 2004 exhibition schedule (4.9 ppg., 3.5 rpg.) ... currently is in her fourth professional season and second as starting center for WNBA's Detroit Shock ... was averaging a career-high 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game (at time of Olympic announcement) while ranking fifth in the league with 1.45 blocks per game ... her first season in Detroit ('02-'03) saw the Shock go from "worst to first," improving from 9-23 to 27-10 and winning the WNBA title ... named MVP of '03 WNBA Finals after registering 14.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in the three-game series, including a career-best 27 points in decisive third game ... only women's basketball player ever to be named the Finals MVP at both the college and professional levels ... her ND career included two All-America seasons while becoming the only ND women's basketball player to reach 2,000 career points (3rd, with 2,072) and 1,000 rebounds (1st, with 1,007) ... her senior honors included consensus national player of the year after leading Notre Dame to a 34-2 record and the first national championship (she also was named the Final Four MVP) ... off the court, she was a two-time first-team Academic All-America choice and was the 2001 Academic All-America Team Member of the Year ... should Team USA win the gold medal , Riley (and Shock teammate Swin Cash) would become two of only four American-born women's basketball players ever to win a college title, a professional championship and an Olympic gold medal (the others are Sheryl Swoops and Kara Walters) ... native of Macy, Ind. ... Team USA is scheduled to play its first Olympic game on Aug. 14 against New Zealand at 2:30 p.m. Athens time (6:30 a.m. in South Bend).
* Jan Viviani - is heading to Athens as alternate fencer for the men's epee team competition ... reached the round-of-64 at the 2004 World Championships, losing a tough 15-14 bout to eventual bronze medalist Alexandre Bouzaid of France ... the three starters on the '04 Olympic men's epee team include two of his former college and youth fencing rivals (Air Force's Seth Kelsey and Princeton's Soren Thompson), plus Cody Mattern ... won a 2004 National Circuit event in San Diego, boosting his drive to qualify for the Olympic team ... won bronze medal at 1999 Junior World Championships ... native of Haworth, N.J., who attended Northern Valley/Demarest HS and trains at the New York Athletic Club ... became first ND epeeist to be four-year All-American, including 3rd-place NCAA finishes in 2000 and '01 and 5th in '02 ... helped Irish win 2003 NCAA team title ... owns top win pct. in ND men's epee history (.890, 162-20) ... the men's epee events will be held in Athens on Aug. 22.
* Peta Gaye Dowdie - world-class sprinter who has worked on a volunteer basis with ND's female sprinters (including standouts such as Kymia Love and Maryann Erigha) during the past two years while also living and training in South Bend ... slated to compete in the 4X100 relay for Jamaica (she also went to the 2000 Olympic games as a 100 and 4X100 qualifier) ... was the Jamaica national champion in the 100 meters in 1999 and 2000 ... her top time in the Jamaica record books is 11.03 in the 1000 ... turned in an impressive career at LSU ... won NCAA 200-meter title in 1999 (22.83) and again in 2000 (22.51), also running anchor leg on 4X100 relay that claimed '97 NCAA title (43.17) and winning ... won the SEC 60-meter title in 200 (7.28), also winning the SEC 200-meter crown in '99 )22.99) and '00 (23/09) ... named the Southeastern Conference's track athlete of the year for 2000, after earning all-SEC honors in the 60, 100, 200 and 4X100 ... also turned in All-America finishes in 2000 for the 60, 100, 200 and 4X400.
* Jeff Smoke
- 2000 Notre Dame graduate from the Mendoza College of Business will compete for United States in flatwater kayaking ... earned berth on U.S. canoe/kayaking team by winning the K-2 1000 (two-man, 1,000-meter) event at the Continental Qualifier in Brazil ... was second in the K-4 1000 at the Continental Qualifer ... posted four top-three finishes at U.S. Olympic Trials in April, finishing first in K-2 1000 and K-4 1000, while ending up second in K-1 1000 and third in K-1 500 ... outstanding athlete has taken part in more than 30 triathlons, winning the Triathlon National Championships title for his age-group in 1997 ... native of Buchanan, Mich., (located less than 20 miles from Notre Dame) who was raised by two parents who were Olympians in sprint kayaking ... his mother took part in the 1964, '68, and '72 Olympics, winning the bronze medal on her first attempt ... his father was a '64 Olympian ... upon graduation, took a job with Chicago option trading firm Equitec Proprietary Markets ... was not a varsity athlete during his time at Notre Dame ... will compete on August 23 in Athens.