The Olympic Cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony in the Olympic Stadium at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (Dylan Martinez/Pool Photo via AP)

Athletes, coaches with BYU connections to represent at Tokyo Olympics

The 2021 Summer Olympics kicked off Friday with the opening ceremony, highlighting athletes of all nations. Five athletes and two coaches with BYU connections will represent their nations in their respective sports.

Men’s volleyball

Former Cougar Taylor Sander earned a roster spot for the United States men’s volleyball team, marking his second-straight Olympics with Team USA. Sander will look to add to his medal collection as he won a bronze medal in 2016.

His brother Brenden Sander and Ben Patch both played for BYU as well and are listed as alternates for the squad.

The trio played for the United States in the Volleyball Nation’s League in May and June, in which the U.S. finished seventh overall.

Mike Wall, a two-time national champion with BYU, will serve as an assistant coach for the United States.

Sander and the U.S. start their journey for a gold medal on July 24 at 6:45 a.m. MDT.

BYU alumnus and U.S. volleyball player Taylor Sander poses during the opening ceremony in Tokyo. (Taylor Sander/Instagram)


Josué Dominguez will represent the Dominican Republic in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter breaststroke.

Dominguez is the only Cougar to represent a nation other than the U.S. at Tokyo. He revealed on Instagram on Thursday that he was in and out of quarantine in Tokyo because of COVID-19 contact tracing, and had just two training sessions ahead of his first race.

The 2021 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Swimmer of the Year begins his Olympic journey on July 24 at 5:40 a.m. MDT.

For more on Dominguez’s journey to Tokyo, see this profile piece from earlier this summer.

Josue Dominguez swims for BYU last season. Dominguez will represent the Dominican Republic at the 2021 Toyko Olympics. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Women’s rugby

Former BYU women’s rugby All-American Jordan Matyas will represent the United States in rugby.

Matyas has played for the United States Senior Team since 2017, including a fourth-place finish in the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Matyas and the U.S. begin their quest for gold on July 28 against China at 7 p.m. MDT.

Women’s volleyball

National champion Luka Slabe will be an assistant coach for the United States women’s volleyball team.

Slabe has served as an assistant for the U.S. since 2018.

Slabe became head coach for North Carolina State University women’s volleyball in February 2020, following a three-year stint as an assistant coach at BYU. He led the Wolfpack to an 8-9 record in his first season.

The women’s volleyball team begins play on July 24 against Argentina at 8 p.m. MDT.

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