Aug. 2, 2016
By Dan Colleran
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With the opening ceremony for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad just days away, Notre Dame fans will have plenty of athletes to follow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as twelve former Fighting Irish student-athletes are set to take part.
Daily updates will be featured on UND.com. Complete schedules for when the athletes with Notre Dame ties will be competing can be found at UND.com/Rio. Join the conversation on social media and support the Irish using #OlympicND.
Fans can also subscribe to the Irish in Rio calendar, which features detailed information about Notre Dame athletes, alumni and coaches as they compete in the upcoming Rio Olympic games. Subscribers will receive device alerts before each athlete competes, television information (if applicable) and a link to stream the competition from NBC's Olympics website. This calendar is the best way to keep up with the Irish as they represent their countries and Notre Dame in Rio.
Fans can subscribe to the calendar with only a few clicks, and updated information will automatically be set to your device as it becomes available:
Subscribe to the Irish in Rio Calendar
Ancaster, Ontario native Melissa Tancredi, who helped lead the Notre Dame women’s soccer team to the 2004 national championship, will get things started as Canada plays Australia on Wednesday, August 3 in preliminary round action.
Fighting Irish alumni have now competed in 19 Summer Olympiads and sent at least nine competitors to each of the past four. With Margaret Bamgbose and Amanda Polk set to make their Olympic debuts, Notre Dame’s total number of all-time Olympic competitors will reach 39.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics will take place on Friday, August 5. The Closing Ceremony will be on Sunday, August 21.
The networks and digital platforms of NBC will present an unprecedented amount of coverage, including the most live event coverage of any Olympic Games. All Olympic competition will be live streamed through NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.
Natalie Achonwa (’14) – Canada
Achonwa will be making her second straight appearance at the Olympics. In 2009, she made history as the youngest player selected to the Canadian Senior National Team when she was just 16 years old. She recently helped Canada to gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games and at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.
Achonwa, a Fighting Irish team captain as a senior, earned Associated Press All-America third team and All-ACC second team honors with the Irish. At the time of her graduation, she ranked 12th on Notre Dame's career scoring list (1,546 points), third in games played (145) and fourth in rebounds (970).
Achonwa currently plays for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, who selected her in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2014 WNBA Draft.
Courtney Hurley (’12) – USA (epee)
Hurley will be competing in the Olympics for a second time. She won bronze with the U.S. women’s epee team at the 2012 Games in London – the first ever podium finish at the Olympics for the U.S. squad. She also finished 22nd in the individual epee event in London.
Courtney’s older sister and fellow Notre Dame alumna, Kelley, also was a member of the
2012 epee team that won bronze. But 2016 will mark the first time Courtney and Kelley will fence each other in the individual epee competition as Kelley only participated in the team portion of the 2012 competition.
Courtney is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s epee among U.S. fencers and will head to Rio ranked 16th in the world. A Team USA veteran, Hurley has been a member of every Senior World Championship Team since 2006.
At Notre Dame, Courtney earned first-team All-America honors four times (2009-11 and 2013) and she won NCAA epee titles in 2011 and in 2013. She was the NCAA third-place finisher in 2009 and 2010.
Kelley Hurley (’10) – USA (epee)
Hurley will be making her third consecutive appearance at the Olympic Games, having also taken part in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London). She joined her younger sister, Courtney, on the bronze medal winning epee team at the 2012 Games, which made history as the first U.S. women’s epee team to earn an Olympic medal. At the 2008 games, Kelley was the only women's epee fencer from the United States to qualify and she placed 20th.
Kelley is currently ranked No. 2 in women’s epee among U.S. fencers and will head to Rio ranked 18th in the world. In addition to making a third Olympic team, Hurley has also made Team USA Senior World Championship Teams on 11 occasions (2003, 2005-11, 2013-15). She is also a four-time USA Fencing Division I Individual National Champion.
Kelley’s Notre Dame career featured three All-America citations, including first team honors in 2007 and 2008 as well as a second team honor in 2010. A season after finishing as the runner-up (2007), she captured the NCAA epee title in 2008. During the 2008 regular-season, she posted an impressive 47-1 record before winning the NCAA title.
Lee Kiefer (’17) – USA (foil)
Kiefer, a three-time NCAA foil champion, will be appearing in the Olympics for the second time after finishing fifth in the individual foil competition at the 2012 Games (London).
Keifer is currently ranked No. 1 in women’s foil among U.S. fencers and will head to Rio ranked third in the world. With a wealth of international experience, she became just the second U.S. women’s foil fencer to earn a medal at the Senior World Championships when she captured the bronze in 2011. In 2015, she became the first athlete to win seven consecutive individual titles at the Pan American Championships.
In three seasons at Notre Dame, Kiefer has posted back-to-back-to-back NCAA championships (2013-15) and earned first team All-American honors in each of those three seasons. As a junior (2015), she was named ACC Women's Fencing Scholar-Athlete of the Year, ACC Women's Foilist of the Year and was honored as a first team Capital One Academic All-American.
Gerek Meinhardt (’13, ’15) – USA (foil)
Meinhardt has made the U.S. Olympic team for a third time, having also competed in 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London). As a 17-year old, he made history in 2008 as the youngest U.S. Olympic fencer of all time. In January of 2014, he became the first active collegiate fencer to ever reach No. 1 in the world rankings.
Meinhardt heads to Rio ranked No. 2 in men’s foil among U.S. fencers and No. 3 in the world. In 2010, he became the first U.S. male to win a Senior World Championship medal (bronze) and then became the first U.S. male to win multiple individual Senior World Championship medals when he picked up the silver in 2015. In 2007, he became the first U.S. men's fencer ever to qualify for the Cadet, Junior and Senior World Teams all in the same year.
At Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 2013 and added a master’s degree in business administration in 2015, Meinhardt was a three-time All-American (2009-10, 2013). After finishing as the runner-up at the 2009 NCAA Championship, he captured the 2010 NCAA championship. He also placed third in 2013. During his regular-season career at Notre Dame, he went an impressive 79-6.
Mariel Zagunis – USA (sabre)
Zagunis is set to take part in her fourth straight Olympic Games. In 2004 she became the first U.S. fencer to win an Olympic gold medal in 100 years and the first U.S. women’s fencer to ever win gold. In 2008, she won a second gold and also added a team bronze. If she wins a medal in Rio, Zagunis would tie former Fighting Irish track & field All-American/head coach Alex Wilson ('32) for the most medals won by a Notre Dame athlete in Olympic competition (four). She is also set to become the first former Notre Dame student-athlete to compete in four Olympics.
Regarded as the most decorated fencer in U.S. history, Zagunis is the No. 1-ranked U.S. fencer in women’s sabre and is also No. 3 in the world. She was the U.S. Olympic flag bearer in the Parade of Nations for the 2012 Games in London.
Zagunis is a five-time Senior World Cup champion (2005, 2009-12) and she was inducted into the FIE Hall of Fame in 2013. She is the first U.S. fencer to have four World Championship gold medals and she has finished the year as the world No. 1 five times.
In two seasons at Notre Dame, she was the 2005 NCAA Championship runner-up and then she went on to win the 2006 NCAA championship. In 2005 she also helped the Irish to the NCAA team championship.
She is the daughter of Robert and Cathy Zagunis, who were both rowers on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team in Montreal.
Amanda Polk (’08) – USA (women’s eight)
Polk will be part of USA’s women’s eight boat that is chasing history at the Rio Games, as it is in pursuit of an 11th consecutive World/Olympic title. Polk has been part of five of the previous 10 consecutive championships won by the U.S. women’s eight boat.
Polk has been a member of the U.S. senior women’s rowing team from 2009-11 and from 2013-16. She also was a member of the U.S. U-23 team in 2008 and of the U.S. junior team in 2004. In 2013 she was part of the U.S. women's eight boat that set the world record (5:54.16) at the World Rowing Cup.
A four-time All-American at Notre Dame, Polk finished her career as the most decorated rower in program history. She earned first-team All-America honors by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) following her sophomore, junior and senior seasons and was a second team honoree as a freshman. She served as a team captain in 2008 and was a key member of the 2006 varsity eight that earned Notre Dame’s first berth in the NCAA rowing championships, finishing seventh overall. She also led Notre Dame to BIG EAST Conference rowing championships in each of her final three seasons.
Melissa Tancredi (‘05) – Canada
Tancredi is set to make her third Olympic appearance, having helped Canada to the bronze medal at the 2012 Games in London and also participating in 2008 (Beijing). In 2012, she was Canada’s second-leading scorer with four goals.
A veteran of Team Canada, she reached the 100-career games played plateau in May of 2015. This year, she helped Canada secure a place in Rio by scoring three goals in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying play. She first played with the senior national team in 2004 and scored her first international goal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio as Canada won the bronze.
Tancredi was a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and was a key member of the 2004 national championship team. She was a co-captain on that NCAA championship team and also earned first team All-American honors that season. She was also named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year in 2003. In 62 career games, she totaled 12 goals and nine assists for 33 points.
TRACK & FIELD
Margaret Bamgbose (’16) – Nigeria (400 meters)
Bamgbose will be making her Olympic debut when she competes in the 400 meters for Nigeria. She placed third in the event at the Nigerian Olympic Trials. She becomes the second former Notre Dame student-athlete to represent Nigeria at the Summer Games, joining hurdler Selim Nurudeen (2008 & 2012).
Bamgbose was an 11-time USTFCCCA All-American with the Irish, which marks the highest All-American total in program history. Her seven first team honors came in the indoor 400 meters (2016), the outdoor 400 meters (2016), the outdoor 4x400-meter relay (2016), the indoor 400 meters (2015), the distance medley relay (2015), the outdoor 400 meters (2015) and the outdoor 400 meters (2014).
Bamgbose qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships four times (2013-16) and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2013, 2015 and 2016. She was also the 2015 ACC Indoor 400 Meter champion.
Molly Huddle (’06) – USA (10,000 meters)
Huddle will be making her second straight Olympic appearance. She swept the 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter events at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, becoming the first woman in history to win both races in the same year. At the London Games (2012), Huddle placed 11th in the 5,000. This year in Rio, she has chosen to focus on the 10,000.
Huddle won a silver medal in the 5,000 at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In 2012 she placed second in the 5,000 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She also finished sixth in the 5,000 at the 2013 World Championships and then fourth in the 10,000 at the 2015 World Championships. She set the American record in the 5,000 in 2014 (14:42.64).
Huddle was a 10-time All-American at Notre Dame and was the runner-up in the 5,000 at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She also was named all-BIG EAST 15 times and won seven BIG EAST track and field titles. She was named the BIG EAST Outstanding Track Performer twice.
Angie (Harris) Akers (’98, volleyball) – Netherlands beach volleyball
Akers joined the Netherlands coaching staff in 2015. At Notre Dame, she earned first-team all-BIG EAST accolades on three occasions with the Fighting Irish before going on to a very successful beach volleyball career. She played several seasons internationally and won a bronze medal on the FIVB Volleyball World Tour.
Monty Williams (’94, basketball) – USA men's basketball
Williams joined the Team USA staff as an assistant coach in 2013. Williams earned All-America accolades at Notre Dame and went on to play nine seasons in the NBA. He coached in the NBA from 2005-16, including five seasons (2010-15) as the head coach of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans.
Additional #OlympicND Notes
-- New Notre Dame foil coach Buckie Leach will serve as the women’s foil coach for Team USA. Prior to his latest stint with Team USA, Leach first served as U.S. National Women's Foil Coach from 1996-2004, including the Atlanta, Athens and Sydney Games.
-- Former Fighting Irish women’s soccer standout Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf will serve as the television analyst for all U.S. Women’s National Team games. Markgraf won gold with the U.S. in 2004 and 2008 and claimed a silver medal in 2000.
-- Courtney Thompson is a setter on the U.S. Indoor Volleyball team. Thompson played at the University of Washington under current Notre Dame Head Coach Jim McLaughlin. She was a member of McLaughlin's 2005 NCAA Championship squad and she also won a silver medal with Team USA at the London Games in 2012.
-- ND --
Dan Colleran, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been a part of Fighting Irish Media since August 2015 and coordinates all media and publicity efforts surrounding the Notre Dame hockey and men’s golf programs. A native of Walpole, Massachusetts, Colleran spent the previous three years working with the men’s hockey and soccer programs at Providence College. Colleran also spent two years as an Assistant Executive Director of Communications & Championships at the Ivy League and is a graduate of Providence College (’06 & ’08G).