The final countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games is well underway, and more than a half-dozen members of the University of Calgary family are getting ready to show the world what they are made of.
And you can track them all with today’s launch of our Postcards from London website, which offers bios, schedules, twitter handles, stories and snapshots from overseas.
First to step onto the world stage – on July 27 – will be national champion gymnast Nathan Gafuik for qualification events. While taking part in all disciplines, Gafuik’s specialty is the high bar and he is a medal hopeful in a competition that is wide open.
Gafuik practically grew up on the University of Calgary campus – his mother has worked at the university for nearly all of Nathan’s life – and he continues to train at the university’s gymnastics centre.
Swimmer Erica Morningstar has her heats in the 200-metre individual medley July 31. This is her second Olympic Games, and Morningstar has spent the past four years working toward a spot on the podium.
“Last time, it was about going to compete and getting into the semi-finals and finals,” she said. “This time, I want to win a medal and I want to win it badly.”
Fellow Dinos swimmer Amanda Reason will form part of the Canadian team for the women’s 4x200-metre freestyle relay Aug. 1. The squad is looking to upset the strong U.S., Chinese and Australian teams.
The track and field competition traditionally begins in the second week of the Olympic Games, and that is when University of Calgary alumna Jessica Zelinka will attempt to improve on her fifth-place finish in the heptathlon at the Beijing 2008 Games. She is in good form, having set a new the Canadian record of 6599 points at this month’s Canadian Olympic trials. A similar performance will put her in strong medal contention.
Zelinka will also contest the 100-metre hurdles after a surprise win at the trials.
Two big names from the Dinos wrestling program round out the campus-connected competitors late in the second week of the Games. Reigning gold medalist Carol Huynh will attempt defend her title in the women’s freestyle 48-kilogram class. Currently an assistant coach in the Dinos program, Huynh could become the first Canadian Olympian to win consecutive gold medals in the same event.
Recent University of Calgary graduate Leah Callahan, a three-time CIS national champion between 2009 and 2011, will look to add an Olympic gold medal to her trophy cabinet in the 72-kilogram freestyle class.
Incoming law student Inaki Gomez will be competing in the speed walking on Aug. 4, and cyclist Clara Hughes is taking part in both the road race and time trials as the former fine arts student attempts to add to her Winter and Summer Games medal collection.
The exploits of these athletes will be closely followed by their many supporters at the University of Calgary – a task made easier with the launch of our Postcards from London site.