Sports & Recreation

Competitive Contingent


Former UW rowers Ross James (left) and his twin brother, Grant James, were among eight Badgers competing in London. AP photo/Paul Sakuma

Current and former Badgers competed in London’s summer Olympic Games.

Given the university’s rich tradition of athletics and competition, it came as no surprise to see multiple Badger alumni competing in the Olympic Games in London in July and August.

Kristin Hedstrom ’08 competed in lightweight women’s double sculls for Team USA, taking to Dorney Lake what she learned as a rower at the UW — and bringing to twelve the number of consecutive Summer Games featuring UW rowers.

“I loved rowing as a sport, but I just loved doing it at a school like Wisconsin,” says Hedstrom. “I am so proud to represent the UW on an international scale. … I credit my success to being a student athlete at Wisconsin.”

Grant ’09 and Ross ’10 James also rowed for Team USA. After joining the team as walk-on (non-scholarship) athletes in their freshman year, they continued to compete in college, and they’ve been training full time since they graduated.

“The rowing program is designed to identify and cultivate kids who are born rowers and don’t know it,” says Chris Clark, men’s rowing coach. “The James brothers represent the archetype of UW rowers. … They are soft-spoken, with the tenacity and work ethic to be successful competitors.”

Hedstrom and the James brothers were among those hoping to join the nineteen Badger alumni who medaled in previous Summer Games.

Former UW runners also earned spots on Olympic teams. Gwen Jorgensen ’09 switched from competing in swimming to running on UW’s women’s track and cross-country teams halfway through her college career. Although she’s been competing in triathlons for just two years, her immense talent earned her a spot on Team USA.

Matt Tegenkamp ’05, a former UW track star, competed in the men’s 10,000-meter race. One of three runners to achieve the Olympic “A” (automatic qualifier) standard in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, he qualified at the U.S. Olympic Trials to compete in London.

Tegenkamp’s former teammate and national champion Chris Solinsky ’07 decided not to enter the Olympic trials due to a hamstring injury.

UW senior Mohammed Ahmed x’13 broke a thirty-six-year-old record in the 10,000 meters in April, achieving the Olympic “A” qualifying standard. After taking the Big Ten title in the 5,000 meters in May, he competed at the NCAA championships, finishing seventh. At the Canadian Olympic Trials, Ahmed won the 10,000-meter run, fulfilling his Olympic dream.

Hilary Stellingwerff ’04 joined Ahmed on Team Canada, competing in the 1,500-meter race. Stellingwerff ran at UW for four years and earned high honors in her senior season.

Egle Staisiunaite ’12 also made the trip to London, competing in 400-meter hurdles for Lithuania and becoming the fifth former member of the Badger women’s track-and-field program to participate at the Games.

Justin Doherty MA’03, associate director of UW Athletics, says the department is proud to have representation on an international stage. “People competing have been taught and trained here,” he says, “and that says a lot about our university and our athletics program.”

Published in the Fall 2012 issue


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