Olympics Feature 17 Tar Heels

There are 17 former Carolina student-athletes representing six different countries in Brazil to compete in the 2016 Olympics.


Olympic basketball has a pair of Carolina competitors in Harrison Barnes and LaToya (Lara) Pringle Sanders.

Harrison Barnes, competing for the USA, is the 14th UNC player to make an Olympic men’s basketball team. "The Black Falcon" played two years for Carolina, averaging 16.4 points and 5.5 rebounds. He was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2011 and a NABC second-team All-American in 2012. Barnes, who won a NBA title with Golden State, recently signed a free agent deal with Dallas.

LaToya (Lara) Sanders is competing for Turkey where she has dual citizenship. The 6-3 post has played for various WNBA teams as well as professionally in Turkey, where she has been on the national team roster for the past four years. At Carolina, she was a key member of two Final Four squads. A 2008 graduate, Sanders is married to former Tar Heel men's basketball player Byron Sanders.


Olympic track and field has a duo who each won NCAA titles for the Heels - Shalane Flanagan and Vikas Gowda.

Shalane Flanagan, a 2005 UNC graduate, is running the women's marathon. This is her fourth trip to the Olympics and second competing in the marathon for the United States. She was a bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympics in the 10,000m but has moved up to longer distances now. She won three national championships in her time at Carolina - two in cross country and one indoor 3000m title.

Vikas Gowda will be competing in discus for India, also his fourth Olympic berth. His best finish was 8th in 2012 games in London. At UNC, he won the NCAA 2006 title in discus. Gowda has been battling injury but is cleared to compete in Rio as of this week.


Field Hockey has an illustrious five pack of Carolina alums who will suit up for the USA squad.

Jackie Kintzer Briggs is a goalie who finished at Carolina in 2010, this is her second time on the Olympic stage. Briggs helped the Tar Heels win two NCAA titles and was an All-American selection in 2009 and 2010. She joined the U.S. National Team in 2010.

Rachel Dawson, a midfielder who graduated from UNC in 2007, is in her third Olympics. Her No. 9 UNC jersey was retired, only the third player in program history to have her jersey retired. The National Player of the Year for field hockey, Dawson elected as one of the five finalists for the Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation's top college female athlete while at Carolina and was a two-time ACC Player of the Year. Won a NCAA title with UNC in 2007. She joined the national team in 2005 and She is the most capped athlete on the team with 240 marks.

Caitlin Van Sickle gained her first Olympic berth and she is a defender from the UNC Class of 2012,. She was a three-time All-American at UNC and three-time ACC Player of the Year. Van Sickle competed in NCAA National Championships all four years, with the Heels winning a title in 2009. She was selected for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2013.

Katelyn Falgowski, a midfielder who finished her time in Chapel Hill in 2011, is competing in her third Olympics. Was the youngest player ever named to the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team at the age of 14 and then the only collegiate athlete named to the Beijing Olympic roster. She was named NFHCA/Longstreth Division I National Player of the Year and was a two-time All-American while at UNC. She played in three NCAA title games, winning one national championship.

Kelsey Kolojejchick is a striker who graduated from UNC in 2015, Kolojejchick is first player in the university’s history to be named as an NFHCA First Team All-American all four years. She played in two NCAA championship games. This is her first Olympic team but she’s been on various USA junior and senior squads since 2003. Her brother Matt played football at UNC.


Largest group of Tar Heels competing in Rio is the women’s soccer players. Seven Tar Heels will represent the USA on the Olympic women’s soccer team including five active roster players and two alternates. An eighth Carolina alum will suit up for New Zealand. In an interesting coincidence, the USA opens Olympic play against New Zealand on August 3rd.


Crystal Dunn is now a forward for the Washington Spirit who will suit up in her first Olympics.  A 2014 grad, she won the Hermann Trophy for top female college soccer player as well was the only player to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year in the same year. An All-American who finished her college career with 31 goals and 25 assists in 80 games, she started all but three games in her entire UNC career. Part of the 2012 NCAA championship team.

Whitney Engen, another first-time Olympian, she finished up in Chapel Hill in 2011 and is now a defender for the Boston Breakers. An All-American for the Heels, she contributed to three national title wins. She tied a school record for games played and games started in a season. As a junior, she played a whopping 2,518 minutes, playing the last 1,211 minutes of the season without taking a break.

Tobin Heath, from the class of 2010, she has over 100 caps (international appearances) and this is her second Olympics. The midfielder plays professionally for Portland Thorns FC. At Carolina, she was an All-American and won four straight ACC titles and three NCAA titles. She was the runner-up for the Hermann Trophy.

Meghan Klingenberg is in her first Olympics. Klingenberg graduated in 2011 and is presently a defender for the Portland Thorns FC. A four-year starter for Carolina who played in 94 total games in her college career. An All-American selection, she was part of two NCAA championship teams. Previously she played on US national soccer teams at U-16, U-17, U-20 and U-23.

Allie Long is another first timer on the Olympic stage. The ’10 midfielder also plays for the Portland Thorns FC. Won a title with the Heels, after transferring from Penn State. A more recent call up to the national team roster - her first appearance in a national team game was in 2014 at age 26.


Ashlyn Harris, the goalie for Orlando Pride, helped UNC win three NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championships in her four years there, playing in all three title games and finishing up in 2009.

Heather O’Reilly is one of the most capped women’s soccer players in the world with over 200 appearances and 6th in assists in USA women’s national team history. She has won three Olympic gold medals. In Chapel Hill, she was selected the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and twice the Offensive Player of the NCAA Tournament.    Part of two NCAA title teams, she was an All-American and the ESPN Player of the Year.  Her #20 was retired by Carolina and she now plays professionally for FC Kansas City.


Katie Bowen just graduated from UNC this year and plays forward for the Football Ferns (the name for the New Zealand national team). A New Zealand native who came to the USA to attend UNC, she now plays for FC Kansas City. Alternate for the NZ 2012 Olympic team, she is youngest player to represent New Zealand internationally, playing on their U17 team at 14 and making the senior national team first appearance at 17. All-ACC selection who assisted on game-winning goals versus Stanford (NCAA semifinals) and Penn State (NCAA championship game). Won one national title at UNC.

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