USM Sends Ten Athletes to Compete in 2016 Olympic Games
Adelphi, Md. (Aug. 22, 2016) -- The 2016 Rio Olympics featured 10 athletes with connections to the University System of Maryland (USM).
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games (which began with the evening Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) featured alumnae from two greater Baltimore institutions: Coppin State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
USM's flagship campus, the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) campus, was well-represented in the Rio Games with seven current or former students competing. These athletes represented nations as far-ranging as the United States, Colombia, and Canada.
USM congratulates all of its 2016 Olympic athletes for their major accomplishment of qualifying for and competing in the Rio Olympics.
Christina Epps '14 - Track & Field (USA)
Epps will compete for the U.S. Olympic Team in the triple jump portion of the track and field event. She qualified for the Olympics last month during the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore.
Coppin State initially recruited Epps to be a two-sport athlete, competing for both the university's volleyball and track and field teams. A devastating volleyball injury in March 2012 forced Epps, 25, to focus her competitive energy on the triple-jump.
Shortly after she secured her spot on the U.S. Olympic team, a celebration was held in Epps' honor at Coppin State, during which she signed hundreds of autographs-accommodating all in the Coppin community who asked for one. Epps finished 15th in the competition.
Cleopatra Borel '02 - Track & Field (Trinidad and Tobago)
Borel will represent Trinidad and Tobago in the shot put competition during the Rio Games. This will be Borel's fourth trip to the Olympic games.
Borel, 37, was UMBC's first NCAA Division I national title winner. In 2002, she won the women's shot put event at the Division I Track and Field Championships, outdistancing top competitors Austra Skujte of Kansas State and Iowa State's Lisa Griebel.
Upon moving to the U.S. in 1998, she attended Coppin State University and transferred to UMBC when her coach at Coppin retired. Borel finished with an overall ranking of 7th.
Mohamed Hussein ’14 – Swimming (Egypt)
Hussein will represent Egypt in the 200-meter individual
medley. After breaking six individual school records as a junior in 2012-13,
Hussein in his senior year led UMBC to a second-place finish at the team's
first CCSA (Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association) Championships and was
named the Most Outstanding Male Swimmer of the meet. He also set the school
record (47.65) in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2014 NCAA
Championships. Hussein finished 25th overall.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
The Terrapins' history of participation and success in the Olympics is a long and proud one. Research by university library archivists traces University of Maryland athletes' first Olympic Games participation to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and Irene Knox, who competed in shooting. Four Terps participated in the 1948 Olympics in London, including three athletes in the canoe events. Tom McMillen, a Rhodes Scholar and former member of the USM Board of Regents who starred for the Terps men's basketball team in the early 1970s, was part of the U.S. silver-medal team that lost one of the most controversial gold-medal-games in Olympic team-sports history to the Soviet Union during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Below is a summary of former and current Terps competing in the Rio Games.
Katie (O'Donnell) Bam '11 - Field Hockey (USA)
Bam played for the UMCP field hockey team from 2007-2010, leading the Terrapins to the 2008 and 2010 NCAA titles. She is Maryland's all-time leader in points (306), goals (99), and assists (108). She was named ACC Player of the Year in all four years of her career and won the Honda Sports Award for the nation's top player twice. This will be Bam's second Olympic Games, as she competed with Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Jill Witmer ‘14 - Field Hockey (USA)
Witmer competed at UMCP from 2010-2013, helping Maryland win the 2010 and 2011 national titles. She is No. 4 in the Maryland record books in points (163) and is No. 5 in goals (67). She was a four-time NFHCA All-American and the 2013 ACC Player of the Year. Witmer will be making her first Olympic appearance in Rio. The women's team finished 5th overall, an improvement of seven spots from its 12th-place finish at the 2012 London Games.
Nataly Arias '08 - Women's Soccer (Colombia)
One of the most accomplished international players in UMCP's women's soccer history, Arias will suit up for her third straight major tournament following an appearance in the 2012 London Olympics and last summer's Women's World Cup in Canada. A four-year starter who played her final season at UMCP in 2008, Arias played 71 games and scored 12 goals with seven assists in her career. She ranks seventh in shots (148) in Maryland history and was a team captain her final season. Colombia finished 4th in Group G.
Thea LaFond '15 - Track & Field (Dominica)
The 2015 Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year, LaFond will represent Dominica in the triple jump. LaFond previously competed for Dominica at the 2015 Pan American games in both the triple jump and high jump, finishing 13th (1.80m) and 12th (13.35m) in the events (respectively). LaFond competed on the UMCP track and field team from 2012-2015. LaFond placed 37th during the qualifying round.
Micha Powell '17- Track & Field (Canada)
A UMCP rising senior, Powell will compete as a member of the 4x400 meter relay team, and is one of 65 athletes nominated by the Canadian Olympic Committee to represent Canada in Rio. The Toronto, Ontario native punched her ticket to the Summer Olympic Games after her performance at the Canadian Olympic Trails in Edmonton. Powell is coming off a breakout year for the Terrapins, where she qualified for the both in the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships. She set new school records in the 400-meter dash during both the indoor (52.56) and outdoor (51.97) seasons, while also helping the sprint medley relay team break the school outdoor record (3:54.92). Powell is the only current student-athlete at UMCP to qualify for the Olympics. Team Canada placed just outside the medal qualifiers in this event, finishing fourth behind the gold-winning U.S. team, Jamaica, and Great Britain.
Ekene Ibekwe ‘07- Men's Basketball (Nigeria)
Ibekwe was an All-ACC nominee while at UMCP and participated in the 2006 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Championships for the Nigerian National Team. He appeared in 94 games, making 55 starts, and entered the 2006-07 season as the team's leading scorer and rebounder.The Nigerian team upset Croatia but suffered losses to Brazil, Lithuania, and Argentina.
Ashley Nee - Canoe & Kayak (USA)
Nee, a UMCP kinesiology major, clinched the lone spot for a U.S. woman to compete in kayak slalom at the Rio Olympics. She has competed in each of the last three world championships, finishing 43rd, 38th, and 44th, respectively. Nee is working toward the completion of a degree from UMCP in kinesiology. After qualifying for the semifinal round, Nee finished 14th overall.
Contact: Mike Lurie