15 August 2016

After the first week of competition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mormon Olympians are competing all across the board. From medals to qualifying races, and from volleyball to shot put, here are where Mormon Olympians stand after week one of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Medals for Mormon Olympians


Valerie Adams: Silver Medal in Shot Put, New Zealand

Valerie Adams

Silver medalist Valerie Adams congratulates gold medal winner, Michelle Carter (Matt Dunham, Associated Press).

As the two-time reigning champion of Olympic shot put, Valerie Adams hoped to win her third gold medal in Rio. However, after an upset by U.S. shot putter Michelle Carter, Adams came in second to win the silver medal.

“It’s tough, but it’s sport,” Adams said in an interview with Deseret News. “It’s been a very tough road for me to even be here. And for me to make it here and make it to the final and get a medal is, um, pretty awesome. I’m going to try to enjoy the moment.”

Ashley Steacy: Bronze Medal in Rugby Sevens, Canada

Bronze Rugby Sevens

Ashley Steacy (bottom row, third from right) poses with women’s rugby sevens team from Canada after winning bronze.

Ashey Steacy, of Lethbridge, Alberta, was on the women’s rugby sevens team for Canada. After beating Japan and Brazil, the Canadian rugby team lost to Great Britain before the quarterfinals. With a win against France, they reached the semifinals on August 8, where they lost to Australia. No longer able to qualify for gold or silver, the team beat Great Britain 33-10 for the bronze medal.


Sarah Robles: Bronze Medal in Weightlifting, USA

Sarah Robles

Sarah Robles joyfully accepts the bronze medal for women’s weightlifting (via deseretnews.com).

Legendary weightlifter Sarah Robles won bronze at her second Olympic Games in the women’s over 75kg weightlifting competition. In her London 2012 Olympic debut, she placed seventh overall. After winning bronze in Rio, she is now the first U.S. weightlifting champion to win a medal for the United States in 16 years.

Faith plays a part in her competition. Robles said, “I had a moment with my coach. We were reading scriptures together, and . . . it talked about using your faith as a foundation and using singing and dancing as a way to praise. And I’ve tried to view the platform as my spiritual foundation, and my lifts as singing and dancing and praising. I try to keep it in the right perspective and use my body to glorify my God.”

Robles competed on Sunday, August 14, in the women’s over 75kg weightlifting division.

Mormon Olympians Currently Competing


Taylor Sander: Men’s Volleyball, USA

Taylor Sander

Taylor Sander helps U.S. men’s volleyball team defeat Brazil (via deseretnews.com).

After an upsetting loss to Canada and Italy, Taylor Sander helped the U.S. men’s volleyball team make a come back in the preliminaries to defeat Brazil and France, putting themselves back in the running. Their next competition is another preliminary match against Mexico scheduled for Monday, August 15, at 8:35 a.m. (MT).


Sami Hill: Women’s Water Polo: USA

Sami Hill

Sami Hill is a goalie for the U.S. women’s water polo team (via swimmingworldmagazine.com).

Sami Hill, a 24-year-old UCLA graduate, competes in the Rio 2016 Olympics as a water polo goalie for the U.S. women’s team. After decisively beating Hungary, China, and Spain, Team USA will face Brazil on Monday, August 15, at 3:20 p.m. (MT). The finals for women’s water polo will take place on Friday, August 19.


Bruna Beatriz Benites Soares: Women’s Soccer/Football, Brazil

Bruna Soares

Bruna Soares plays for the Brazilian soccer/football team.

The Brazilian soccer player, Bruna Soares, competed with the women’s soccer team to beat Sweden and China in the preliminaries. After tying South Africa (0-0) in the preliminary pool, Brazil also tied Australia in the quarterfinals (0-0).

On Tuesday, August 16, at 10 a.m. (MT), Brazil will face Sweden in the semifinals.


Leilani Mitchell: Women’s Basketball, Australia

Leilani Mitchell

Leilani Mitchell plays basketball for the Australian women’s basketball team (via abc.net.au).

After a solid preliminary pool, Leilani Mitchell and the Australian women’s basketball team are at the top of their bracket. Winning against Belarus (74-66), Japan (92-86), France (89-71), and Turkey (61-56), Australia will compete in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, August 16, at 7:15 p.m. (MT).


Completed Events for Mormon Olympians


Maka Unufe: 9th Place in Rugby Sevens: USA

Maka Unufe

Maka Unufe gets tackled in a rugby game against Brazil (via newsday.com).

With rugby events returning to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, Maka Unufe, a 24-year-old from Provo, Utah, was part of the U.S. rugby sevens team. In the preliminaries, the U.S. Rugby team lost to Argentina and Fiji, while beating Brazil in the semifinals. They beat Spain 24-12 to place ninth overall. 


Lucía Palermo: Single Sculls Rowing: Argentina

Lucia Palermo

Lucia Palermo is a single sculls rower for Argentina.

Lucía Palermo, an Argentine sculls rower, competed in qualifying races throughout week one of the Olympics. Ranking third in her semifinal heat, Palermo was able to finish in seventeenth place overall on Saturday, August 13.


Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson: Men’s Beach Volleyball, USA

Men's Beach Volleyball

Jake Gibb (left) and Casey Patterson (right) celebrate after a victory against Quatar (via latimes.com).

Although men’s beach volleyball players Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson fought well in their early preliminary game against Quatar, they were defeated by Austria and Spain in an unlucky turn of events on August 10, losing their chance to compete for the gold. “We fought,” Gibb said. “That’s what we do. That’s what this team does. That’s what we’ve done for four years together. We fight. And we gave it everything we have.”

While Gibb and Patterson are done competing in Rio, the remaining men’s beach volleyball teams will compete for gold on Thursday, August 18.


Patricia Taea: Women’s 100m Race, Cook Islands

Patricia Taea

Patricia Taea (second from left) competed in the 100m sprint for Cook Islands (Getty Images).

After qualifying in the second heat of the preliminary races, Patricia Taea was the second finisher in her heat. In the first round of qualifiers, Taea didn’t qualify, and she finished in 61st place. This was her second Olympic Games, following the London 2012 Olympics.


Lydia Casey Jele: Women’s 40m Race, Botswana

Lydia Jele

Lydia Jele ran the 400m race for Botswana.

Ranking 24th in the first round of qualifying races, Lydia Casey Jele from Botswana didn’t qualify for further rounds of racing. She ran the 400m race with a time of 52.42 seconds on Saturday, August 13.


Mormon Olympians Yet to Compete


John Nunn: Race Walking, USA

Mormon Olympian John Nunn, 38, will compete in his third Olympics. After finishing 26th overall in the Athens 2004 Olympics and 42nd overall in the London 2012 Olympics, Nunn will participate in the men’s 50km walk.

Nunn will compete in the race walking event on Friday, August 19, at 5:00 a.m. (MT).


Jared Ward: Men’s Marathon, USA

I'm excited for this tonight…

A photo posted by Jared Ward (@jwardy21) on

Adjunct BYU statistics professor Jared Ward, 27, has been enjoying his time in Rio. Roommates with fellow Latter-day Saint John Nunn, Ward has enjoyed supporting other sports, including swimming, volleyball, and fencing.

Ward will run the men’s marathon on the last day of the Rio 2016 Olympics, Sunday, August 21, at 6:30 a.m. (MT).

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