As Carmelo Anthony and Jim Boeheim celebrate their 3rd straight Olympic gold medal, we congratulate all of the Orange Olympians who competed in Rio. Now it’s time to look at potential Syracuse Orange connections to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
We know that Carmelo and Boeheim have said that this would be their last Olympics appearance with USA Basketball, but it’s likely that Mike Hopkins will continue his work with the National teams. I don’t think Hop will be on the bench in 2020 with Greg Popovich, but there’s a chance that will happen. As far as players go, it doesn’t seem like the US team will have an Orange connection on the court. Jerami Grant is a darkhorse candidate for the team based on his ability to fill a role as a bench defender, but it’s a stretch to think he’d make the final 12 in four years. The future looks a little better for players representing other countries. Michael Gbinije should remain part of Nigeria’s team as they will look to return to Tokyo. Tyler Ennis should also be part of an improving Canadian team, which would be led by Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, and Jamal Murray.
(Please note that when this article was submitted, FIBA had not responded to my request as to the international eligibility for Rico Lydon)
Alyssa Manley was one of the youngest members of the US Field Hockey team and the standout defensive midfielder looks to return in Tokyo. She could be joined by current Orange Laura Hurff who spent time this year with the US U21 team.
On the track, Syracuse alum Flings Owusu Agyapong isn’t the only athlete pointing towards Tokyo. The sprinter who represented Ghana in the 100m and 4x100m relay could be joined by a few more Syracuse alums. Jarret Eaton was a finalist at the US Trials in the 110m hurdles, and current Orange standout Freddie Crittenden III was a semi-finalist in the same event at the Trials. Both of them could be battling for one of the three spots in that event.
Moving over to the distance events on the track (or roads), Canadian Justyn Knight just missed the Olympic standards this year. As he continues to improve the question might be which event(s) he runs in Tokyo, and not if he runs there. From my perspective, Knight’s prospects seems strongest in the 5k where he brings some dangerous closing speed in what is often a very tactical event, but he has the ability to also qualify in the 1500m or 10k events. Adam Palamar will also be a strong contender to make the Canadian team in the 1500m.
Sarah Pagano and Martin Hehir both competed at the Olympic Trials in Eugene earlier this summer and they will be runners to watch in the 10k and marathon along with fellow alum Margo Malone. It will be interesting to see if they move up to the marathon distance before 2020 where they could be joined at the Trials by Robert Molke and Griff Graves.
Three members of the Syracuse men’s crew team are competing in this year’s World U23 Championships and will be ones to watch in 2020. Mike Glaude (U.S.), Nick Tavares (Canada), and Pieter Kerpestein (Netherlands). From the Syracuse women’s team, Harriet Taylor (Great Britain) might carry on the tradition of Olympic rowers Anna Goodale and Natalie Mastracci.
Katie Zaferes is relatively new to the triathlon, so her 18th place finish in Rio might not be her only Olympic appearance. As Zaferes continues to improve with her race tactics, especially in the bike portion, she could be in medal contention in Tokyo.
Miles Robinson from the Men’s Soccer team played on the US U20 team this summer and would be eligible under the U23 rules used for the Olympics. The defender has shown a knack for scoring on set pieces and his size and ability on both ends would be welcome as the US hopes to qualify for Tokyo.
With softball returning in 2020, could we see the return to the mound of Jenna Caira for Canada? How long will we have to wait for lacrosse to be added so we can really increase the Syracuse presence at the Summer Games?
I’m sure I’m missing some people, so let me know who you think should be on our 2020 watch list.