By Cameron Sawyer
Thirteen BYU athletes, three of whom are enrolled in classes, are competing in this year’s Olympic Games, which opened Friday, Sept. 15, in Sydney.
“I think it is an impressive showing. It reaffirms the excellent athletic programs that we have,” said Norma Collett, BYU’s director of athletic media relations.
Collett said she cannot remember a time when there have been this many current and former BYU athletes participating in the Olympics.
Kenneth Andam, 24, a senior from Takoradi, Ghana, majoring in economics, will be running the 100-meter and 4×1 relay. Andam will represent Ghana in the Games.
“I’m so excited. I think it’s the best thing in the whole world,” said Emily Andam, his wife. “He’ll do awesome. He’s 100 percent ready. I think he will make it to the final round and hopefully bring back a metal.”
Running with Andam is Leonard Miles-Mills, also from Ghana. Miles-Mills is a former student at BYU.
Swimmers Gary Tan, a sophomore, and Hana
Majaj, a freshman, are also enrolled at BYU.
Tan will represent Singapore in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke. Majaj, from Amman, Jordan, will compete in the 200-meter butterfly.
Stan Crump, BYU women’s swim coach, said Majaj will most likely swim for BYU next year.
Arunas Savickas and former BYU student Tomaslav Karlo, will also be competing in the swimming events.
Savickas, a three-time All American, will be swimming in the 4×100 relay, 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter freestyle for Lithuania. Karlo, former WAC swimmer of the year, will be swimming in the 100-meter backstroke for Croatia.
Four former BYU athletes — Frank Fredricks, Ryan Millar, Amy Christansen Palmer and Jason Pyrah — will represent the United States.
Mark Robison, BYU men’s track coach, said Frank Fredricks, already a four-time Olympic silver medallist, should be competing in Sydney this year if he is healthy.
“My guess is that Fredricks will be running,” Robison said.
Fredricks won two silver medals in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and two silver medals in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, both in the 100- and 200-meter races.
Former BYU volleyball standout, Ryan Millar, will also be competing in Sydney, playing for the U.S. men’s volleyball team.
Amy Christansen Palmer will be throwing the hammer for the U.S. Palmer looked impressive this summer, taking second place in the Olympic trials, said Craig Poole, BYU women’s track and field coach.
Jason Pyrah, who graduated from BYU in 1994, will be running the 1500-meter.
Other track and field athletes who once competed for BYU are Marsha Mark, who will be competing in the heptathalon for Trinidad and Tobago; Maggie Chan, who will be running in the 5000-meter for Hong Kong; and Kartsi Leppulltto Lundhal, who will represent Finland in the power lift.
“It is quite an honor for them to be some of the elite athletes in the world,” Poole said.