UCLA athletes, coaches excel at 2008 Olympics
August 27, 2008 | 3:21 PMUCLA Sports Information
UCLA ranked amongst the nation’s most successful universities at the recently completed Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Thirty-nine current and former Bruins participated in the Olympics, with 15 athletes winning medals, including four gold. In addition, five Bruins led their teams to medals as Olympic coaches.
The first Bruin gold medalist of the Games was assistant rowing coach Mark Hunter, who captured Great Britain’s first ever gold medal in lightweight double sculls with partner Zac Purchase on Aug. 17. Two days later, hurdler Dawn Harper became the second consecutive Bruin to win the 100m hurdles at the Olympics, running a lifetime best 12.54. Bruin junior Lauren Cheney played the final 49 minutes of the contest in the gold medal match, helping the U.S. women’s soccer team capture the gold with a 1-0 overtime win over Brazil. And on the eve of the closing ceremonies, Monique Henderson won her second consecutive gold medal in the 4x400m Relay. Two Bruins were assistant coaches on gold medal-winning squads – current UCLA women’s soccer head coach Jillian Ellis and men’s volleyball alumnus John Speraw. UCLA women’s track and field coach Jeanette Bolden served as head coach of the USA women’s track and field squad, which won nine medals, the most since the 1992 Olympics and the third-most in U.S. history.
Nine Bruins won silver medals – one individual (Sheena Tosta in the 400m hurdles) and eight team medals. Winning team silver were the U.S. softball team (Andrea Duran, Tairia Flowers, Stacey Nuveman and Natasha Watley), the U.S. women’s water polo team (Natalie Golda, Jaime Hipp and head coach Guy Baker), and the U.S. men’s water polo team (Brandon Brooks and Adam Wright).
A pair of bronze medals were earned by U.S. swimmer Kim Vandenberg in the 4x400 Free Relay and Australian softball pitcher Tanya Harding, who won her fourth career Olympic medal.
Overall, UCLA has won 236 Olympic medals – 119 gold, 62 silver and 55 bronze. The Bruins have had at least one competitor in every Olympics since 1928 and have won a gold medal in every Olympics since 1932, with the exception of the U.S.-boycotted Olympics in 1980.
Over the past nine decades, 372 athletes and coaches have represented UCLA in the Summer Olympic Games. With eight Olympic medals, Shirley Babashoff remains UCLA’s all-time medal winner with eight in her career (2 gold, 6 silver). Swimmer Tom Jager has the most Olympic medals by a Bruin man with seven (5 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze). Jager also has the distinction of having won the most gold medals by any UCLA athlete.