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Go Purple, Win Gold—Huskies at the 2012 Olympics: Volleyball and Track

19 Olympians with ties to the UW will be heading to London this summer. In our continuing series, we introduce you to them. Here are your Husky Olympians!


Courtney Thompson

Courtney Thompson, ’08, Volleyball (photo courtesy of Team USA)

Courtney Thompson, ’08, Volleyball

Kent native Courtney Thompson knows something about winning. In 2005, she helped captain the UW volleyball team to its first NCAA championship. As starting setter in the European professional leagues, she took her team to victory in the national championships. But most impressive was her performance last April, when she led a floundering Puerto Rican civic team, the Cataño Lancheras, to victory against the heavily favored Caguas Creoles. The Creoles had been to the finals 20 times; they had not lost consecutive games in three years. In front of a crowd of 7,000 cheering fans, Thompson’s Lancheras swept the series, winning the small island city’s first professional sports championship of any description. After a four-day party in the streets of Cataño, Thompson headed back home to shoot for Olympic glory.

Thompson is also active in sports philanthropy, visiting hospitals with Team USA and holding free volleyball clinics to help the next generation of women athletes.

tamari miyashiro

Tamari Miyashiro '09, Volleyball (photo from The Daily)

Tamari Miyashiro, ’09, Volleyball

Tamari Miyashiro, ’09, comes from a volleyball family. Both her mother and her sister played volleyball for the University of Hawaii, while her brother played at Graceland University in Iowa. A walk-on when she came the the UW in 2005, Miyashiro has earned the reputation as one of the best defensive players around.

Since joining the U.S. national team, she has added her skills as a digger to the dominating volleyball squad that has been ringing up tournament wins all over the world, including the 2012 FIVB Grand Prix at the beginning of this month.

Stars of Track and Field

Aretha Thurmond

Aretha Thurmond, ’98, discus (photo courtesy of Team USA)

Aretha Thurmond, ’98, Discus

Three-time Olympian Aretha Thurmond returns to the field for a fourth shot at the gold. Thurmond is a four-time national champion and three-time runner-up, and is described by USA Track & Field as “among the top, and most consistent American throwers for the past 10 years.” Thurmond has dominated the field in the U.S. since 2003, and it all started with a lost wager. From the USA Track & Field website:

[Thurmond] had wanted to play softball in high school, but her physical education teacher wanted her to go out for track. They made a bet that if he could beat her in one-on-one basketball, she would give up softball. He won, and she kept her part of the bargain. She went on to win three state discus titles.

Brad Walker

Brad Walker, ’04, pole vault (photo courtesy of Team USA)

Brad Walker, ’04, Pole Vault

Brad Walker has pole vaulted higher than any American in history. Only three other people have ever vaulted higher than he has, and they’re all retired now.

Walker came to the UW from University High School in Spokane, turning down a larger scholarship from WSU to do so. During his years as a Husky, he set league records and won two consecutive NCAA championships. Since then, he has trained relentlessly to improve, and in 2006 he became one of only 12 vaulters ever to clear the six-meter mark.

This is Walker’s second run for the Gold

Coming up: Where all the men’s rowers went and other tales of international Olympians; and, of course, Hope Solo.


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