Athletes With Georgia Connections To Watch In This Year’s Olympics

Dozens of athletes competing in this years delayed Tokyo Olympics either grew up in Georgia or went to school in the state.
Dozens of athletes competing in this years delayed Tokyo Olympics either grew up in Georgia or went to school in the state.
Credit Emil Moffatt/WABE News

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic games take place Friday in Tokyo. A few events have already taken place this week, but most of the action will take place over the next few weeks.

There are dozens of athletes with Georgia ties that will be competing, among the highlights:

These Olympics were delayed a year because of the pandemic, and COVID-19 is still a factor. Some Olympians are having to miss the games because of positive COVID tests – including one Atlanta native, the young tennis star Coco Gauff. She was set to be the youngest tennis player in a generation in the Olympics. Gauff said she was disappointed by not getting to go, but says she hopes there are many more chances in the future.

Marietta’s Kendell Williams is set to compete in the heptathlon. It’s her second Olympic games. (Team USA)

Track & Field
Elija Godwin from Covington and is a junior at the University of Georgia is part of the U.S. 4×400 relay team. Kendell Williams from Marietta and UGA will compete in the heptathlon; it’s her second Olympics.  Keturah Orji is originally from New Jersey, but went to UGA and now trains with Atlanta Track Club. This is her second Olympics, competing in the triple jump. Javianne Oliver from Monroe, Ga. will be in the 100-meter race. Atlanta’s Kenny Selmon, who attended Pace Academy, will take part in the 400-meter hurdles; Daniel Roberts, also from Atlanta will compete in the 110-meter hurdles. Daniel Haugh competes in the hammer throw, he went to St. Pius X High School and Kennesaw State. Jarryd Wallace will compete in his third Paralympic games beginning Aug. 24. He’s from Athens, attended UGA and trains with the Atlanta Track Club as well.

Atlanta’s Gunnar Bentz went to St. Pius and UGA. This is his second Olympics as he and his relay team won gold in 2016, but that triumph was overshadowed by an incident involving he and some of his teammates and two security guards at a gas station. He’s competing this time in the 200-meter butterfly. Brooks Curry from Dunwoody will be on Team USA’s 4×100 freestyle relay, it’s his first Olympics. Jay Litherland who went to high school in Johns Creek and also went to UGA will make his second Olympic appearance. He’ll be competing in the 400-meter individual medley. Emilie Grand Pierre, who grew up in Atlanta and attended Whitefield Academy in Smyrna, is on Haiti’s swim team. And Andrew Wilson, who went to Emory, is on the U.S. swim team.

Jay Litherland attended Chattahoochee High School and will be competing in his second Olympics this year. (Team USA)

Soccer, Basketball and Baseball
The U.S. women’s soccer team lost to Sweden this week, but they still have a chance to advance. Emily Sonnett from Marietta and Fellowship Christian High School is on the team. She was an alternate at the 2016 games in Rio. There’s also Kelley O’Hara from Fayetteville making her third Olympic appearance with U.S. Soccer. In basketball, former Georgia Tech star Josh Okogie is an Olympian, not for Team USA but for his native Nigeria. Allisha Gray from Sandersville, Ga. has made the women’s 3-on-3 basketball team. And baseball is back in the Olympics this year: Tyler Austin a former major league infielder from Conyers is on the team along with Edwin Jackson, the pitcher from Columbus, Ga. and Anthony Carter who went to Parkview High School in Lithonia.

Henry Leverett and his older brother Jack Leverett are from Bainbridge, Ga. They’re both on the pistol team at Ohio State. Both have excelled in junior competition and will be competing in their first Olympic games. In skeet shooting Vincent Hancock represents Eatonton, Ga. The 32-year-old is making his fourth Olympic appearances – he won gold in 2008 and 2012.

Other Notables
Brody Malone from Summerville, Ga. will represent the U.S. on the artistic gymnastics team. Sepp Straka, who moved to Georgia as a teen and later attended UGA, will compete on Austria’s Olympic golf team.