Auburn Has A Large Olympic Contingent

Auburn is well represented at the 2012 London Olympics in the sports of track and field plus swimming.

With the 2012 Summer Olympics opening this week in London, Auburn will once again be well represented on the world athletic stage with 24 athletes with AU ties scheduled to compete in the coming weeks.

The best bet from the Auburn male contingent for a gold medal could be in the 50 meters from Cesar Cielo, who is considered the world's fastest swimmer going into the Games.

Cielo's time of 21.38 seconds is the fastest in qualifying for the event and the former NCAA champion holds the world record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.91 set in December of 2009. He also is the Olympic record holder.

Cesar Cielo celebrates winning an NCAA Championship for Auburn.

The only other swimmer who has ever posted a time under 21 seconds in the event is Fred Bousquet, who also swam fo Auburn. Bousquet held the world record at 20.94 seconds for less than a year before Cielo took it from him.

Bousquet would have been a threat to win the 50 gold medal in London based on his excellent times this year, but he had an off-day in qualifying at the French Olympic Trials meaning he did not make the team and is on the outside looking in this year. With the former Tiger not in the mix, Cielo's chances of repeating his gold medal swim from the Beijing Olympics look promising.

Looking at female competitors for the London Games who have Auburn ties, former Tiger stars Kirsty Coventry (track) and Kerron Stewart (swimming) each have an excellent chance of earning gold medals in London.

Stewart, who lives and trains in Auburn where she owns a restaurant featuring food from her home country (Jamaica), earned the silver medal in the 100 meters in 2008 and also took a bronze medal in the 200. She will be a threat to win the gold in the 100 meters this year as well as on a strong 4x100 relay team.

"I think Kerron has a chance to run very well in London," says Auburn head track and field coach Ralph Spry, who noted that the AU graduate has looked good in training.

Kerron Stewart competed on an NCAA Women's Track and Field National Championship team at Auburn.

Coventry is going for a third gold medal in the 200 backstroke and will be tough to beat in the event in which she set the current world record in the event in 2009. Only two women's swimmers have won gold medals in three consecutive Olympics in the same event. She is also a standout in the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.

The former Auburn star took a year off from swimming following the 2009 world championships before returning to competition in 2010. Coventry, who is coached by former AU assistant coach Kim Brackin, recently performed well in an international meet in France that was a tune-up for the Olympics.

Coventry had planned to also compete in the 400 individual medley, but decided to change her plans after suffering a kneecap injury and an illness earlier this year that affected her training schedule.

During Coventry's illustrious career she has won the only swimming medals in Zimbabwe's history. Her haul includes two golds, four silvers and a bronze. She will be the flag bearer for the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday.

Among the other athletes with good chances to win medals in London are swimmer Eric Shanteau, who will represent the U.S. in the 100 breaststroke and possibly the 4x100 medley relay. Shanteau just missed qualifying for the 200 breaststroke by eight hundreths of a second at the U.S. Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Eric Shanteau is shown at a Toomer's Corner celebration after his Tigers won the 2006 national championship.

Other AU swimmers with good chances of bringing home medals include Tyler McGill from the U.S., Ariana Vanderpool-Wallace from The Bahamas, Matt Targett of Australia, Gideon Louw of South Africa along with Adam Brown and James Disney, who both compete for the host nation, Great Britain.

Leevan Sands, who won a bronze medal for The Bahamas team four years ago, is still going strong in the track and field world. The former Tiger is a solid threat to win a medal in London.

Sands hits the sand in a 2003 meet competing for Coach Ralph Spry's Tigers.

His teammate, former Tiger star Donald Thomas, was the 2011 world champion in the high jump, but has not been in top form so far this season. However, he has the potential to earn a gold medal.

Marc Burns will run for the Trinidad & Tobabo 4x100 relay that has a chance to earn a medal.

Competition at the London Olympics will run through August 12th.

Here is a list of athletes competing in the 2012 Games with Auburn connections.

Swimming and Diving

The United States:

Micah Lawrence, class of 2013--200-meter breaststroke
Tyler McGill, class of 2010--100-meter butterfly, 400-meter medley relay
Eric Shanteau, class of 2006--4x100-meter medley relay, 100-meter Breast Stroke
David Marsh, class of 1981--assistant coach

American Samoa:

Megan Fontena, class of 2015--100-meter freestyle

Australia:

Matt Targett, class of 2009--4x100-meter freestyle relay

The Bahamas:

Brett Hawke, class of 1999--head coach
Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, class of 2012--50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle

Brazil:

Marcelo Chierighini, class of 2014--4x100-meter freestyle relay
Cesar Cielo, class of 2009--50-meter relay, 100-meter freestyle, 400 freestyle relay

Canada:

Stephanie Horner, class of 2012--400-meter individual medley

Great Britain:

Adam Brown, class of 2011--50-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter freestyle relay
James Disney, class of 2014--4x100 meter freestyle relay

South Africa:

Gideon Louw, class of 2010--50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter freestyle relay

Trinidad & Tobago:

George Bovell, class of 2006--50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle

Zimbabwe:

Kirsty Coventry, class of 2005--100-meter backstroke, 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter individual medley

Track and Field

The Bahamas:

Sheniqua Ferguson, class of 2011--100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100-meter relay
Avard Moncur, class of 2001--4x100 meters
V'Alonee Robinson, class of 2014--4x1000 meters
Henry Rolle--assistant coach
Leevan Sands, class of 2004--triple jump
Shamar Sands, class of 2007--110-meter hurdles
Donald Thomas, class of 2007--high jump

Ireland:

Mark Carroll--assistant coach

Jamaica:

Maurice Smith, class of 2004--decathlon
Kerron Stewart, class of 2007--100 meters, 4x100-meter relay

Trinidad & Tobago:

Marc Burns, class of 2006--4x100-meter relay
Josanne Lucas, class of 2006--100-meter hurdles
Kai Selvon, class of 2013--200 meters, 4x100-meter Relay

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