Nine former or current UConn athletes will compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, which begins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday night. Women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma will also be representing his country in Rio, as the head coach of the United States women’s basketball team.
Auriemma leads a stacked national team that features five accomplished former Huskies: Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles. Auriemma started all five of them during an exhibition win over Canada last Friday in Bridgeport as the USA prepares to make a run at a sixth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball.
Bird and Taurasi will be looking to take home their fourth Olympic gold medals, while Moore and Charles are both competing for their second. Stewart will be making her first Olympic appearance, just a few months after graduating UConn and being selected as the first pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft.
One of Auriemma’s current players, Kia Nurse, will be representing Canada in Rio as a member of the Canadian women’s basketball team. Nurse averaged 9.3 points per game this past season as a sophomore guard for the Huskies.
Nurse will be playing in her first Olympic Games this year, but at 20 years old she has already put together an impressive international résumé. Nurse helped lead Canada to a gold medal in the 2015 Pan Am Games, including a 33-point performance to help top Stewart and the United States in the gold medal game.
UConn will also be represented in Brazil by former field hockey star Melissa Gonzalez, who graduated in 2011. Gonzalez will be serving as captain of the United States field hockey team, as she makes her second Olympic appearance.
Gonzalez, who was a two-time NHFCA First Team All-American during her time in Storrs, will lead a USA squad currently ranked fifth in the world. The team is looking to end an Olympic medal drought that began in 1988.
Rounding out the list of Huskies in Rio are graduates Stephanie Labbé and Phylicia George, who will be competing for team Canada along with Nurse. Labbé, who was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008, will be the starting goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team. George, who finished in sixth place in the 100m hurdles at the 2012 Olympics, was named again to the track and field team.
The Canadian women’s basketball team will open preliminary group play Saturday against China at 1:15 p.m., and the United States women’s basketball team will do so Sunday against Senegal at 11:00 a.m. The two teams will face off on Aug. 12 at 2:30 p.m.
The United States field hockey team will open preliminary group play Saturday against Argentina at 4 p.m. The Canadian women’s soccer team will open group play Saturday against Zimbabwe at 2 p.m.
Tyler Keating is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.