Growing up, many people dream of playing in their sports’ biggest stage. For some, that means the Super Bowl, the World Series or the NBA Finals. For others, that dream is to compete in the Olympics. They grow up living that dream everyday, putting in countless hours training and hoping they can one day reach that ultimate goal.
“We don’t have the Super Bowl or anything like that,” Olympian swimmer Andrew Rutherfurd said. “So for us, this is the biggest stage we have and something we all work and train for.”
Two current BYU athletes will be competing in the Olympics and making their dreams come true. Rutherfurd, a senior from Alpharetta, Ga., will be swimming 100-meter freestyle for the Bolivian Olympic team. He will be joined by Rafael Alfaro, a junior from San Salvador, El Salvador, who will swim the 200-meter individual medley for the El Salvadorian team.
“This has been a lifetime goal for me,” Alfaro said. “I put it in my mind when I was eight and I have had it as my dream ever since.”
There are a total of 16 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints competing in the Olympics representing The Cook Islands, New Zealand, Venezuela, Bolivia and the United States.
At only 17 years old, Celeste Brown will represent The Cook Islands swimming the 50-meter freestyle.
For New Zealand, Valerie Adams and Hayley Palmer will compete in shot put and 50-meter freestyle swim, respectively.
Maria Gabriela Martinez Gascon and Johanna Fuenmayor will represent Venezuela in fencing.
There are 10 representatives for the United States: John Nunn, 50-kilometer race walk; Tumua Anae, women’s water polo; Sarah Robles, women’s weightlifting; Breeja Larson, women’s 100-meter breast stroke swim; Jake Gibb, men’s beach volleyball; Ryan Millar, Rich Lambourne and Russel Holmes, men’s volleyball; Jillian Camarena-Williams, shot put and Arielle Martin, women’s BMX. Kristin Richards is also the first alternate on the women’s volleyball team.
For a couple of athletes, this will not be the first time they have gone to the Olympics. Millar will be going to his third Games as a member of the volleyball team. Lambourne, Camarena-Williams, Gibb, Nunn and Adams will be going for their second time. Adams is the reigning gold medalist from the Beijing Games and is a favorite to repeat. The men’s volleyball team is also the reigning gold medalist and a favorite to win again.
The Olympics will begin with the Opening Ceremony Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Games will continue everyday until the Closing Ceremony, which will be held Sunday, Aug. 12. The time of the Closing Ceremony will be announced at a later time. The NBC family of networks will cover the Olympics on TV. For all official schedules and times of events, visit nbcolympics.com.