Nov. 10, 2004
The University of Notre Dame had nine future, current or former students competing in the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece (four of the nine won gold medals) - and all nine will be on campus this weekend in conjunction with the Nov. 13 Notre Dame-Pittsburgh football game.
The nine individuals - women's fencer Mariel Zagunis, soccer players Kate Sobrero Markgraf and Shannon Boxx, basketball player Ruth Riley (those four all won gold for the United States), soccer player Monica Gonzalez, swimmers Christel Bouvron and Andrew MacKay, fencer Jan Viviani and kayaker Jeff Smoke - will be introduced (based on availability) Friday both at the Notre Dame Football Live luncheon and at the pep rally (both at the Joyce Center). Then the Irish Olympians will be honored during the football game Saturday, culminating in a halftime presentation.
A 10th Olympian with Notre Dame connections, Jamaican sprinter Peta Gaye Dowdie - who has worked on a volunteer basis with Notre Dame's female sprinters during past two years -has returned to Jamaica and will not be in attendance this weekend.
The 2004 Olympic Games had a distinctive Notre Dame flair, as those 10 individuals with connections to Notre Dame participated in Athens. Most notable were the "Golden Girls" - women's sabre Zagunis, soccer standouts
Sobrero Markgraf and Boxx, and basketball player Riley - who
experienced the thrill of standing on the top step of the Olympic
The only previous Olympic gold medalists with Notre Dame ties had mbeen basketball players Vince Boryla (1964, in Tokyo) and Adrian Dantley (1976, in Montreal) - but Boryla had transferred to the University of Denver prior to his Olympic participation. Seven others have combined to win nine silver or bronze medals.
Dating back to the Antwerp Games in 1920, Notre Dame has been represented in 15 of the 20 Summer Olympics, including each of the last 10. The previous high for Olympians with Notre Dame ties was three, in both 1992 and '96.
Here are short summaries of each 2004 Olympic competitor with Notre Dame ties:
Mariel Zagunis (current freshman) - first U.S. fencer to win gold since 1904 (first U.S. medalist since '84), defeating China's Xue Tan in women's sabre final (15-9) ... defeated Japan's Madoka Hisagae in round of 16 (15-13), Azerbaijan's Elena Jemayeva in quarterfinals (15-11) and Romania's Catalina Gheorghitoaia in semifinals (15-10) ... delayed enrollment at Notre Dame but was not named to original Olympic squad, later gaining spot when a fencer from Nigeria withdrew ... former world champion who is ranked fourth in the world ... joins Sweden's Bjorn Vaggo (silver in epee, at Los Angeles in '84) as second fencer with Notre Dame ties to earn Olympic medal ... a native of Beaverton, Ore., her parents Robert and Cathy Zagunis were on U.S. rowing team at 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal ... her club coach at Oregon Fencing Alliance, Ed Korfanty, is former Notre Dame assistant coach while her former U.S. sabre teammate Nicole Mustilli was an epee All-American with the Irish in the mid-1990s.
Kate Sobrero Markgraf ('98) and Shannon Boxx ('99) - former teammates
on Notre Dame's 1995 NCAA championship team who were key starters for
2004 U.S. women's soccer team that won gold with 2-1 overtime win
over Brazil ... helped U.S. allow just four goals in six games, also
versus Greece (3-0), Brazil (2-2), Australia (1-1), Japan and 2003
World Cup champion Germany (2-1, OT) ... Sobrero Markgraf is six-year
starter with Team USA (at outside and central back) and was member of
1999 World Cup championship team and the 2000 Olympic silver-medalist
squad (the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native was three-time
All-American with the Irish) ... Boxx - considered the top world's top
defensive midfielder- was surprise addition to 2003 World Cup roster,
became first women's soccer player ever to score in her first three
games with the national team and earned spot on the World Cup
all-tournament team ... a native of Redondo Beach, Calif., she is
engaged to Sean Takata ... her sister Gillian Boxx played on U.S.
softball 1996 gold-medal team.
Ruth Riley ('01) - celebrated 25th birthday by helping U.S. win gold
in women's basketball (73-63 vs. Australia) ... the U.S. earlier beat
New Zealand, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Spain, China, Greece
and Russia (22-point average margin of victory) ... one of five women's
basketball players ever to win NCAA, WNBA and Olympic championship ÂÂÂŠ
saw action in seven Olympic games, as reserve center ... earned roster
spot as injury replacement for DeLisha Milton-Jones ... native of Macy,
Ind., who led Notre Dame to 2001 national title while receiving
several top national awards.
Monica Gonzalez ('00) - founding member of Mexico's national women's
soccer team ('98) ... captained team to historic win over Canada in
Olympic qualifying (2-1, with current Notre Dame captain Melissa
Tancredi a starter for Canada) ... reached Olympic quarterfinals (5-0
loss to Brazil) after tying China (1-1) and posting respectable 2-0
loss to 2003 World Cup champion Germany ... played on Mexico's 1999
World Cup team and has returned to Notre Dame for exhibitions versus
the Irish ... native of Richardson, Texas, who earned All-America and
Academic All-America honors as a fifth-year player in 2001.
Christel Bouvron ('06) - first active Notre Dame student-athlete to
compete in Olympics since August "Gus" Desch won 1924 bronze in
400-meter hurdles (Antwerp) ... swam for Singapore while turning in
200-metter butterfly time of 2:26.21 in her 2004 Olympic heat ... one
of 12 competitors to compete in 200 butterfly at both 2000 and '04
Olympics ... also swam 400-meter freestyle at the 2000 Games in Sydney
... former Notre Dame swimmer Jileen Siroky ('04) competed as 15-year
old for U.S. at the 1996 Games in Athens (200-meter breaststroke).
Andrew MacKay ('08) - swam two events as first athlete from Cayman
Islands ever to compete in the Olympics and Notre Dame men's swimming
program's first-ever Olympian ... broke his Cayman Islands records in
his 400 (4:32.38) and 200-meter (2:07.65) individual medley heats at
the Olympic Games ... holds Cayman Islands national records in all
backstroke, breaststroke, and IM events, as well as 100-meter
butterfly ... coached by former U.S. great Dave Kelsheimer.
Jan Viviani ('03) - former senior leader of 2003 national
championship team who earned spot on U.S. Olympic fencing team as
alternate in epee men's team events ... competed in epee team's
fifth-place Olympic bout vs. Ukraine, turning in three solid bouts
with 2-0 win and pair of one-touch losses while splitting 12 total
touches (his U.S. teammates combined to win 27 touches but lose 39) ...
native of Haworth, N.J., who trains at New York Athletic Club ... first
Notre Dame epeeist ever to be four-year All-American.
Jeff Smoke ('00) - although never a varsity athlete at Notre Dame, he
followed lead of his parents Bill ('64) and Marcie ('64 bronze, '68,
'72) by qualifying for Olympic Games in flatwater kayaking ÂÂÂŠ he and
teammate Andrew Bussey finished 13th in Athens for the 1,000-meter
race (3:16.34) ... won K-2 1,000 Continental Qualifier in Brazil ...
has competed in more than 30 triathlons, winning Triathlon National
Championships title for his age-group in 1997 ... native of Buchanan,
Peta Gaye Dowdie - world-class sprinter who has worked on volunteer
basis with Notre Dame's female sprinters during past two years...
went to Athens as member of Jamaica's 4x100 relay pool but did not
compete (she also went to the 2000 Olympic games as a 100 and 4X100
qualifier) ... two-time Jamaican national champion in 100, also
winning NCAA 200-meter title in 1999 (with LSU).