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Twenty-Six Aggies qualify for Tokyo Olympics

(KBTX)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 3:58 PM CDT
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TOKYO, Japan – Twenty-six Aggies have packed their bags to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that begin July 21 and run through August 8.

The 26 Aggies, 21 former student-athletes and five current student-athletes, represent 15 nations, including eight Aggies from the United States. Bryce Deadmon, Fred Kerley, Annie Kunz, Maggie Malone and Athing Mu qualified for Team USA in track & field. Other members of Team USA include Austin Kraijicek in tennis and Khris Middleton in men’s basketball.  Alex Dawson is headed to Tokyo as a member of the Team USA swim team as a manager.

Multiple Aggies representing the same nations include Alia Atkinson (swimming) and Charokee Young (track & field) for Team Jamaica, Beryl Gastaldello (swimming) and Alais Kalonji (diving) for Team France, Tyra Gittens (track & field) and Deon Lendore (track & field) for Trinidad & Tobago, Angel Martinez (swimming & diving) and Tori Vidales (softball) for Team Mexico.

Other Aggies competing in Tokyo include, Adri Arnaus (golf/Spain), Aviv Barzelay (swimming/Israel), McKenna DeBever (swimming/Peru), Adaora Elonu (women’s basketball/Nigeria), Amini Fonua (swimming/Tonga), Munzy Kabbara (swimming/Lebanon), Sydney Pickrem (swimming /Canada), Yasser Mohamed Tahar Triki (track & field/Algeria), Lindon Victor (track & field/Grenada) and Emmanuel Yeboah (track & field/Ghana).

The SEC Network is scheduled to broadcast a show dedicated to SEC athletes in the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.

Aggies in Tokyo Olympics (Alphabetical Order)

Name – Sport – Nation

Adri Arnaus  – Golf – Spain

Alia Atkinson  – Swimming – Jamaica

Aviv Barzelay – Swimming – Israel

Alex Dawson – Swim team manager - USA

Bryce Deadmon – Track & Field – USA

McKenna DeBever – Swimming – Peru

Adaora Elonu – Basketball – Nigeria

Amini Fonua – Swimming - Tonga

Beryl Gastaldello – Swimming - France

Tyra Gittens – Track & Field – Trinidad & Tobago

Munzy Kabbara – Swimming – Lebanon

Alais Kalonji – Diving – France

Fred Kerley – Track & Field – USA

Austin Krajicek – Tennis – USA

Annie Kunz – Track & Field – USA

Deon Lendore - Track & Field - Trinidad & Tobago

Maggie Malone – Track & Field – USA

Angel Martinez – Swimming – Mexico

Khris Middleton – Basketball – USA

Athing Mu – Track & Field – USA

Sydney Pickrem – Swimming – Canada

Tahar Triki - Track & Field - Algeria

Lindon Victor – Track & Field – Grenada

Tori Vidales – Softball – Mexico

Charokee Young – Track & Field – Jamaica

Emmanuel Yeboah - Track & Field - Ghana

All times and dates are CT

Adri Arnaus ’16 – Golf – Spain

Aranaus makes his Olympic debut. The 26-year-old tees off at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in individual stroke play at 5:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday July 28. In his fifth year as a professional, Arnaus competes on the European Tour and is No. 166 in the World Golf Ranking. He has competed in a total of 52 events and in 2020 he ranked No. 89, a career high. During his time in Aggieland, Arnaus earned the Coach Bob Ellis Leadership award and in 2015 he was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and Most Improved Player.

Alia Atkinson ’10 – Swimming – Jamaica

Competing in her fifth Olympic Games, Atkinson looks to become the first Jamaican swimmer to win an Olympic medal. In 2016, she placed eighth in the 100m breaststroke and in 2012 she missed the podium by one position finishing fourth in the 100m breaststroke. The six-time Central American and Caribbean Female Swimmer of the Year begins competition on Monday, July 26. Atkinson graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in psychology and was inducted into the Texas A&M Lettermen’s Association’s Hall of Fame in 2019.

Aviv Barzelay ’25 – Swimming – Israel

Barzelay, an incoming freshman, is competing in her first career Olympic Games. The 19-year-old recently lowered the Israeli national record in the 200m backstroke with a time of 2:10.76. She begins competition Friday, July 30.

Alex Dawson ’06 – Swim team manager – USA

A four-year letterwinner at A&M, Dawson has served as the director of operations since graduating in 2007. His role with the Olympic Team includes coordinating athlete movements, meals, practice times and other logistical duties. Dawson recently worked in the same role at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships and was the assistant manager at Worlds in 2017. He has also served as a high performance consultant for the USA Swimming National team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Team Trials, the 2009, 2013 and 2014 USA World Championship Trials and the 2013 World University Games.

Bryce Deadmon ’19 – Track & Field – USA

A recent graduate, Deadmon is competing for Team USA for the first time in his career. The Missouri City, Texas, qualified as a member of the mixed 4x400m relay. Round one of the mixed 4x400m is scheduled for the morning of July 31, followed by the finals the morning of August 1. Deadmon placed seventh in the 400m finals at the U.S. Olympic trials, followed by a second place finish in Hungary. During his time in Aggieland, he finished as a 10-time All-American and was a five-time SEC Champion. He set 13 Texas A&M all-time top-12 marks, including the school record in the indoor 300m (32.73) and ran as a member of the outdoor 4x400m school record relay that won the NCAA event title in 2019 (2:59.05).

McKenna DeBever ’19 – Swimming – Peru

DeBever is making her Olympic Games debut on Tuesday, July 27 in the 200m individual medley. The 2019 graduate represented Peru at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, the 2018 World Short Course Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. She recently set the Peruvian national record at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis stopping the clock at 2:15.26. DeBever finished her time at Texas A&M as a two-time CSCAA Scholar All-American.

Adaora Elonu ’12 – Basketball – Nigeria

Representing Nigeria, Elonu is making her first Olympic Games appearance. The 31-year-old begins competition at the Saitama Super Arena with preliminary round group B action against the United States on Monday, July 26 at 11:40 p.m. Elonu, a power forward, competes for Uni Girona CB in Spain and in 2019 was named the Most Valuable Player of the Spanish Supercopa. In 2018, prior to competing in the World Cup, Elonu was named the Nigerian national team captain. During her collegiate career, Elonu played a critical role during Texas A&M’s run to the 2011 National Championship. She was a consistent starter on the team that went 33-5 and ranked fourth on the team in scoring (averaging 8.4 ppg) and second in rebounds (averaging 5.9 rpg). She is one of six players in school history to score over 1,000 points and grab over 700 rebounds. Elonu is the first A&M women’s basketball player to compete in the Olympic Games.

Amini Fonua ’12 – Swimming – Tonga

Fonua qualified for his third career Tongan Olympic team. The 31-year-old qualified in the men’s 100m breaststroke that begins Saturday, July 24. In the 2012 Summer Games he served as his nation’s flag-bearer prior to competing in the men’s 100m breaststroke. In 2010, he was the first Tongan swimmer to win a gold medal in international competition, claiming victor in the 50m breaststroke at the Oceania Swimming Championships. Fonua graduated with a telecommunication and multi-media degree, with a minor in creative writing in May 2013. While competing for the Aggies, he was a six-time All-American and finished his career as the school record holder in the 100 SCY breaststroke and in the 200 medley relay.

Beryl Gastaldello ’18 – Swimming - France

A native of Marseille, France, Gastaldello is making her second Olympic Games appearance. In 2016, she competed in the 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and as a member of the 4x100m freestyle that finished seventh. While competing for France, she advanced to the 100m freestyle semifinals at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, Korea. Most recently, she was named the 2020 European Female Swimmer of the Year by swimswam.com. Gastaldello begins competition on Sunday, July 25. She earned 13 All-American honors and was a three-time SEC Champion during her tenure at Texas A&M. Gastaldello was the 2015 SEC Freshman of year.

Tyra Gittens ’21 – Track & Field – Trinidad & Tobago

Gittens makes her Olympic Games debut on Monday, July 31 in the long jump, where she has the world’s seventh-best mark in 2021. Gittens has competed for Trinidad & Tobago in international competition on multiple occasions, including the 2018 NACAC Championships and the Pan American U20 Championships in 2017. The 23-year-old, recently completed her junior season as a six-time All-American, including three NCAA event titles. Gittens set the all-time collegiate record in the pentathlon with a score of 4,746 points and set six Texas A&M records in 2021. She was named the 2021 USTFCCCA National Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year. The multi-athlete is currently a finalist for The Bowerman, which is given annually to the top male and female collegiate track & field athletes.

Munzy Kabbara ’25 – Swimming – Lebanon

Kabbara, an incoming freshman, is one of six athletes representing Lebanon and one of two Lebanese swimmers at this year’s Olympic Games. He is qualified in the 200m individual medley set to begin on Wednesday, July 28 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. A recent Cypress Woods High School graduate, Kabbara helped lead the boy’s team to a third-place finish at the UIL Swimming & Diving State Meet. He holds school records in the 200 yard individual medley, 100 yard backstroke and 100 yard butterfly.

Alais Kalonji ’19 – Diving – France

A native of Rennes, France, Kalonji competes in her first Olympic Games after qualifying in the women’s 10m platform, which begins Wednesday, August 4. In May, Kalonji competed in the FINA Diving World Cup finishing 17th in the 10m platform (256.15). In 2020, she placed seventh in the 10m platform at the European Championships Budapest, Hungary with a score of 286.25. During her Aggie career, she was a captain in 2018-19 and was the 2018 SEC Platform Champion on the women’s side. As a senior, she placed sixth in platform diving at the NCAA Championships (305.30).

Fred Kerley ’19 – Track & Field – USA

A qualifier in the 100m, Kerley is making his first USA Olympic Team appearance. The Taylor, Texas, native begins competition on Sunday, August 1. Known as a 400m specialist, Kerley stepped down to the 100m and 200m for the U.S. Olympic Trials, placing third in the 100m with a personal best time at 9.86. The speedster failed to qualify in the 200m, despite running a time of 19.90. He became the third male in world history to run a sub-10 second in the 100m (9.86), sub-20 second in the 200m (19.90) and sub-44 second in the 400m (43.64) in their career. Kerley is a three-time USATF champion and most recently was a member of the 4x400m relay that won the World Championship in 2019. While in Aggieland, he finished the 2017 season sweeping the 400m NCAA Championships and SEC Championships. Kerley also ran as a member of the 4x400m relay that swept the NCAA titles and SEC titles. He became the first man in collegiate history to go sub-44 during a collegiate season. He was a finalist for The Bowerman award in 2017.

Austin Krajicek ’11 – Tennis – USA

A native of Brandon, Florida, Krajicek qualified for his first Olympics as a member of Team USA in men’s doubles tennis. The 31-year-old is competing along fellow American Tennys Sandgren. The lefty has been competing professionally since 2012 and has been ranked as high as No. 35 in doubles and No. 94 in singles. Krajicek was inducted into the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021. He finished his career in Aggieland as a six-time All-American, Texas A&M leader in doubles wins and teamed with Jeff Dadamo to win the 2011 NCAA Doubles Championships, which was the first in program history.

Annie Kunz ’15 – Track & Field – USA

Kunz makes her Olympic debut in the heptathlon on Tuesday, August 3. The Denver, Colorado, native won the U.S. Olympic Trials heptathlon with a score of 6,703 points, bettering her previous personal best by nearly 500 points. Kunz enters the Olympics as the world leader in the event. In 2019, Kunz finished 13th at the World Athletics Championships with a score of 6,067 points. The multi-athlete competed in track & field and soccer during her time in Aggieland before graduating with a degree in communications. She finished her career as the school record holder in the pentathlon and heptathlon. On the soccer pitch, she finished as a two-time All-SEC First Team member and two-time NSCAA All-South Region Second Team member. In 2011, she made the All-Big 12 Tournament Team and Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. As a senior, she was a member of the Aggies’ 2014 College Cup squad.

Deon Lendore ’15 - Track & Field - Trinidad & Tobago

Appearing in his third Olympic Games, Lendore looks to bring back his first career individual Olympic medal. At his first Olympic Games in 2012, Lendore earned a bronze medal as a member of the 4x400m relay that ran 2:59.40. In 2019, he helped Trinidad & Tobago earn gold in the 4x400m at the World Relays in Yokohama, Japan. The speedster begins competition Saturday, July 31 in the open 400m and Friday, August 6 in the 4x400m. The Mount Hope, Trinidad & Tobago, native has been competing professionally since his graduation in 2015. He served as a volunteer assistant coach under head coach Pat Henry during 2020-21 season. During his time at Texas A&M, Lendore finished his career as the school record holder in the indoor and outdoor 400m, as well as the indoor and outdoor 4x400m relays. In 2014, he went undefeated through 14 races at 400m, while claiming multiple SEC and NCAA titles to become the second Aggie and first male Aggie to win The Bowerman.

Maggie Malone ’16 – Track & Field – USA

A second-time Olympian, Malone looks to improve on her 25th-place javelin finish from the 2016 Rio Games. Malone defended her U.S. Olympic Trials championship winning the 2021 title with a toss of 208-4 (63.50m). In May, she set the American record with and on July 17 she bettered that record with a mark of 221-1 (67.40m). Malone enters the Olympics with the world’s third-best javelin mark in 2021 and competes Monday, August 2. As a collegian, Malone won the 2016 NCAA javelin title with a collegiate record toss of 204-0 (62.19m). Malone finished her Aggie career with all ten top-10 performances in school history.

Angel Martinez ’17 – Swimming – Mexico

Martinez, a native of San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico, is competing in his first career Olympic Games. He recently signed professionally with the Cali Condors for the 2021 International Swimming League season. Martinez finished his Texas A&M career as the school record holder in the 200 SCY butterfly, 200 medley relay and the 400 medley relay.

Khris Middleton ’13 – Basketball – USA

Middleton is a first-time Olympian and competes in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks. Team USA begins competition Sunday, July 25 at 7 a.m. Middleton has solidified star status during the current NBA Finals. The nine-year vet has put up 23.9 points and 5.1 assists per game during the Bucks playoff run, including a 40-point performance in game four of the NBA Finals. Middleton also competed for Team USA at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. He is the second men’s basketball Aggie to represent the United States in the Olympics, joining DeAndre Jordan who helped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games.

Athing Mu ’24 – Track & Field – USA

Mu makes her Olympic debut on Friday, July 30 in round one of the women’s 800m. One of the rising stars of Team USA, Mu won the U.S. Olympic Trials 800m with an under-20 American record and meet record time of 1:56.07. The Trenton, New Jersey, native enters the games as the world leader in the event. In 2021, she set 11 collegiate all-time top-12 marks, including six all-time collegiate records. Individually she owns the indoor 600m (1:25.80), indoor 800m (1:58.40), outdoor 400m (49.57) and outdoor 800m (1:57.73) collegiate records. She anchored two collegiate record relays, the indoor 4x400m (3:26.27/50.27 split) and the outdoor 4x400m (3:22.34/48.85 split). Mu ended the season with eight Texas A&M records. She finished the campaign a four-time First Team All-American, including a three-time NCAA Champion. Following an unforgettable freshman season, Mu pursued a professional career signing a multi-year deal with Nike.

Sydney Pickrem ’19 – Swimming – Canada

Competing in her second Olympics, Pickrem aims to bring home her first career Olympic medal. She represents Team Canada in the 200m breaststroke, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Pickrem finished sixth in the 200m IM with a time of 2:11.22, she failed to pass the round of heats in the 400 IM. Pickrem competed at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, Korea, finishing third in the 200m breaststroke, 200m IM and 4x100m medley. A 2019 physiology graduate, she was named the SEC Swimmer of the Year at the end of her senior campaign. She wrapped up her career as an 11-time All-American and eight-time SEC Champion.

Tahar Triki ’21 – Track & Field – Algeria

An Aggie professional, Triki is competing in his first Olympics. He qualified for the men’s triple jump, which begins competition on Monday, August 2. The 24-year-old has recorded the seventh best triple jump mark in the world in 2021 at 56-10.25 (17.33m), which is the Algerian national record. Triki has an extensive record of international competition. In 2019 he competed at the World Championships finishing 20th in the triple jump, won gold medals at the African Games and Arab Championships. During his time at Texas A&M, Triki won the 2018 NCAA Outdoor National Championship in the triple jump and was a two-time SEC Champion.

Lindon Victor ’18 – Track & Field – Grenada

Victor represents Grenada in his second Olympic Games, he is competing in the decathlon that begins Tuesday, August 3. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, Victor placed 16th in the decathlon with 7,998 points. In 2019, Victor finished second at the Pan American Games with 8,240 points. The multi-athlete competed in Aggieland during the 2015-17 seasons and finished his career as a two-time NCAA National Champion in the decathlon. He set a collegiate record in the event on two occasions, his personal best score of 8,539 points stands as a collegiate record to this day.

Tori Vidales ’18 – Softball – Mexico

No stranger to competing internationally for Team Mexico, Vidales is making her first career Olympic appearance. Vidales is the first Aggie in action at the games as Team Mexico takes on Team Canada on Wednesday, July 21 at 1 a.m. Most recently, Vidales competed at the Australia Pacific Cup helping Mexico finish third. Vidales has also appeared at the USA Softball International Cup, Pan American Games, Softball World Championship and World Cup. In 2019, she played for the Cleveland Comets in the National Pro Fastpitch league, after having a stint with Scrap Yard Dawgs an independent softball team in Houston, Texas. During her time in Aggieland, she was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s All-American Second Team and NFCA All-South Region First team in 2018, while earning All-SEC First Team honors in 2018 and 2016.

Emmanuel Yeboah ’22 – Track & Field – Ghana

Representing Ghana, Yeboah is competing in his first Olympics as a member of the 4x100m relay. Yeboah, a current member of the Aggies men’s track & field team, recently earned First Team All-American honors running as a member of the 4x100m relay that placed seventh in Eugene, Oregon. Ghana’s 4x100m relay is making its first Olympic appearance since the 2004 Athens Games, they have only progressed from the heats round on one occasion.

Charokee Young ’23 – Track & Field – Jamaica

Young represents Jamaica in her first Olympics, qualifying as a member of the mixed 4x400m relay. Young is a sophomore on the Aggies women’s track & field team. She placed eighth in the 400m finals at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. She is the fifth Jamaican to qualify for the Olympics from the Aggie track & field program. During the 2021 collegiate season, she finished as a four-time All-American, including NCAA event titles in the indoor and outdoor 4x400m relays. Individually, she placed fourth in the indoor 400m (51.41) and fifth in the outdoor 400m (51.13). Young won the 2021 NACAC 400m title with a time of 52.06.

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