Aug. 13, 2008
Follow the Big Orange in the Olympics
|FOLLOW THE FORMER VOLS AT THE 2008 OLYMPICS IN CHINA|
(All Times Listed as Eastern Time)
Olympic Games Open Friday forNine Former/Current Vols
Friday, August 8
When the 2008 Summer Olympics begin on Aug. 8, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will be well-represented.
Here's a look at the Vols in Beijing:
Jangy Addy, Track & Field
Addy graduated from UTK in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and electronic media.
News reports say this UT athlete, who has excelled in multiple events, including the decathlon and heptathlon, will be running the 400-meter hurdles for Liberia in the Beijing Olympics. Within a few days of the games' start, however, it was still unclear if Liberia would fund its athletes' participation.
Addy, 23, was born in Sacramento and now lives in Norcross, Ga. He has been a UT team captain, an SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and a first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. In June, Addy finished second in the decathlon at the NCAA champion
Octavio Alesi, Swimming (butterfly)
Alesi, a native of Barinas, Venezuela, will compete for his homeland in the Olympics. He will swim the butterfly.
Alesi is a senior in interdisciplinary programs.
In April, Alesi was named to the 2008 SEC Men's Swimming and Diving Community Service Team. The team honors student athletes who give back to the community through superior service efforts. Alesi has been active with Habitat for Humanity, the Campus Beautification Program and the Race for the Cure.
Alesi qualified for the Olympics by posting a time of 52.24 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly in the Pan Am Games. That time ranked him 19th in the world at the time.
Andrew Bree, Swimming (200m breast stroke)
Former University of Tennessee swimmer Andrew Bree, 27, will be representing his home country, Ireland, in the Olympics for the second time. He swims the 200-meter breast stroke.
Bree competed in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but he failed to qualify for the Athens games.
In April, it looked like Bree's trip to Beijing was off because of a failed drug test. Bree attributed the result to using the U.S. version of a Vicks inhaler and, in late May, the swimmer was cleared.
"The U.S. version of this product contains a banned substance and the Fina (the Federation Internationale de Natation) doping panel has stated it is 'convinced that the use of Levmethamfetamine was not intended to enhance his performance' and that Andrew had gone to 'all possible lengths to check that the medical product that he was using contained no such banned substance,'" the BBC reported. "Having accepted Andrew's explanation and noted his open and frank approach to the issue, the panel has issued him with a reprimand and warning -- the least possible sanction open to it according to its rules."
Anthony Famiglietti, Track & Field (steeplechase)
A three-time All-American track and field star at UT, Famiglietti graduated in 2001 with a degree in psychology.
He is competing in his second Olympics. His event is the 3000-meter steeplechase, a race that involves hurdles and water jumps; he finished eighth in the first round of the steeplechase in Athens in the 2004 Olympics. Acc
ording to his athlete profile on www.nbcolympics.com, Famiglietti's childhood dream was to become a professional skateboarder, but he suffered so many injuries -- including concussions and broken bones -- that his family made him give it up.
Famiglietti, 29, lives in New York City. His hobbies include composing music and creating abstract art.
His profile describes him as very independent and private about his running: "The 2004 Olympic trials were the first time his father had ever seen him race in person in his life, and afterward his father said it was the proudest moment of his life."
Gary Kikaya, Track & Field (400-meter)
Kikaya, 28, was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and will be representing that country in the Olympics. He graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a degree in sociology and a minor in French.
Kikaya will be competing in the 400-meter race. This is his second Olympics; he was his country's flag bearer in in Athens in 2004, but finished 14th in the semifinals.
At UT, Kikaya earned seven All-America honors while lettering for the Vols in 2002 and 2003.
In 2006, he won the silver medal at the World Athletic, the silver in the 2006 World Cup in Athens, the gold at the 2006 African Championships and the bronze at the 2004 World Indoor Championships.
His personal best in the 400-meter is 44.10 seconds.
Kikaya transferred to UT after attending his freshman and sophomore years at Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg, South Africa.
During his senior year, in an interview with TrackShark.com, Kikaya was asked about his adjustment to the American culture and the university.
"I love it here in Knoxville," he replied. "At first I had a hard time adjusting because of the winter season. It was my first time seeing snow and running the indoor season. At Tennessee I found the Southern hospitality was very welcoming from the day I arrived."
Kikaya's father, Ambassador Kikaya bin Karubi, has served as Information Minister of Congo and Special Assistant to President Joseph Kabila.
Tom Pappas, Track & Field (decathlon)
Pappas, 31, graduated from UT Knoxville in 2000 with a degree in recreation and leisure studies. He is now an assistant track and field coach for jumps and combined events at Kansas State University
This is the third time he's qualified to compete in the decathlon at the Olympic games. In 2000, in Sydney, he finished fifth. Four years later in Athens, he was an incoming favorite, but a foot injury forced him to drop out.
The two-day decathlon -- a two-day event consisting of 10 different track and field events -- begins on Aug. 21.
Pappas' other career highlights include winning the gold medal at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, being a four-time U.S. champion (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006) and being the 1999 NCAA champion while attending UT.
During an interview with KSNT Channel 27 in Topeka, Pappas said he thinks, given his age, this may be his last Olympic competition.
"I really want to get a medal and so I feel like I have unfinished business as far as that goes," he said.
Jonas Persson, Swimming (100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay)
Persson, 25, is senior in marketing and international business from Malmo, Sweden. He will be swimming for Sweden and will compete in the 100-meter freestyle individual and the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
Persson swam his freshman and sophomore seasons for Arizona, then transferred to UT. He sat out the 2006 season, and then starting swimming for the Vols during the 2007 season.
Persson and the Sweden relay team qualified for the Olympics after winning gold in the 4x100-meter relay at the 29th LEN European Championships.
At UT, Persson broke UT's 100-meter freestyle record three consecutive times at the NCAA Championships last year. He was the SEC Swimmer of the Week award twice last year.
Leigh Smith, Track & Field (javelin)
Smith, who will compete in the javelin in his first Olympics, graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a degree in wildlife and fisheries biology.
Born into an Air Force family, Smith lived all around the U.S. while growing up. He now lives in Destrehan, La., where he is a professional pilot with multi-engine and jet-aircraft ratings.
While at UT, Smith was a three-time All-American and a three-time Southeastern Conference champion. He holds every Tennessee and Southeastern Conference championship record in the event. He was named Tennessee's Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year for 2003-2004.
He threw a personal best 83.74 m (274.7 feet) at Athens, Ga., on May 9.
Jevon Tarantino, Diving (3m synchronized springboard)
Tarantino attended UT Knoxville and won the NCAA and SEC titles on 1-meter springboard diving in 2004. He dropped out in 2005 because of health problems.
Tarantino is going to the Olympics for the first time. He will compete in the 3-meter synchronized springboard with Chris Colwill, his longtime friend and diving partner.
Tarantino, who now lives in Florida, qualified for the Olympics in Knoxville in July. And, according to various published reports, he couldn't have been happier.
"This pool was like heaven for me," he told the News Sentinel after learning he'd qualified in the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. "I had a lot of people supporting me Ã¢â,¬¦. It has been great."