Five WKU Hilltoppers Will Compete in Tokyo Olympics
Well, in just a few days, the official opening ceremonies will kick off in Tokyo for the year-delayed Summer Olympics. I'm always curious to see how many local/regional collegiate athletes make the team. I knew of at least one WKU track team member for this year's team, but I had no idea there were more.
For the first time in the school's history, five former Hilltopper athletes will be competing in a single summer Olympics. Four of them will be in track and field events, one will represent her country in softball.
Jessica Ramsey missed making the 2016 team, but in Tokyo, she'll be there and she has a good start. Ramsey set a new U.S. Olympic Trials record in the shot put. Her record throw went 20.12 meters or 66 feet and a 1/4 inch. The 30-year-old WKU grad was an All-American and she won seven Sun Belt Conference individual shot put championships.
Yes, Ireland's Michelle Finn will compete in the Steeplechase. She made her first Olympic appearance in Rio in 2016. Finn is a four-time Sun Belt Champion having won the 2010 and 2012 3,000-meter Steeplechase, the 2011 outdoor 5,000-meter run and was a member of the 2010 Indoor Distance Medley Relay Champion team. She currently holds the program record steeplechase time at 10:14.09 from 2012. Finn also ran Cross Country during her time on the Hill.
Martin Owusu-Antwi (pictured on the left) hails from Ghana and he will be an alternate for his country's 4x100 relay team in Tokyo. Owusu-Antwi is the most recent WKU graduate competing in the Olympics. He currently holds the program record for the men's indoor 200 and was a member of the indoor 4x400-meter relay team that has the best time in program history as well. Owusu-Antwi served as a graduate assistant for WKU's track team for the 2019-20 season.
Canada's Gavin Smellie is the Olympic veteran among this year's Hilltoppers. He competed on his country's 4x100 relay team in 2012 and in 2016.
Smellie is a seven-time Sun Belt event champion including the indoor 55-meter (2008), the indoor 200 (2009), the indoor 4x400-yard relay (2008), the outdoor 100 (2008 and 2009), and outdoor 200 (2008 and 2009). He made the SBC podium in the outdoor 100 in all four of his years on The Hill.
Larissa Franklin, also competing for her home country of Canada, is the only non-track WKU athlete in Tokyo. She is also making a little history of her own; she's the first WKU softball player to qualify for the Summer Olympics. Softball as an event was omitted in 2012 and 2016. Canada almost medaled in Beijing in 2008. Franklin is one of 15 athletes representing Canada at this year's games.
Franklin was also part of the gold medal-winning team at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and the silver medal finishing squad at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
Wow! I can't wait to see how the former Hilltoppers do. Oh and here is when you can watch them compete in Tokyo.