Skip to: Menu | Content | Footer

10 College Students Going for Gold at the 2012 Olympics

by Staff Writers

It’s easy to assume Olympic athletes spend all their waking hours training and practicing (and eating). It seems they would have to, in order to be literally one of the best in the world at their chosen sport. Yet for a select class of Olympians, knocking out exams in the morning and training in the afternoon are all in a day’s work. Here are 10 athletes from around the country and internationally who are headed to London this summer to make college students everywhere proud.

  1. Kristian Ipsen, Stanford University:

    With this summer making diving partner Troy Dumais’ fourth Olympics, Kristian Ipsen will have that world competition experience to lean on as the two chase their first Olympic medals. However, Ipsen has been making his own (tiny) waves diving at Stanford as a freshman. In the 2011-2012 season, he became the first Cardinal to win a NCAA title in 82 years, with his victory in the 3-meter dive. Dumais and Ipsen recently took silver in the 3-meter synchronized dive at the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, hopefully a sign of good things to come at the Summer Games.

  2. Derek Drouin, Indiana University:

    IU has its first Olympic high jumper in Derek Drouin, although they’ll have to wait to see one waving the red, white, and blue. With a 2.31 meter (7.5 feet) leap at the Olympic Trials in Calgary, the Hoosier junior earned the right to represent his native Canada in London. The feat made him only the second person in the world to clear the height this season. Expectations are high for this former high school track and field star who’s brought Indiana its first national titles in high jump and been named indoor and outdoor Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year.

  3. Sam Mikulak, University of Michigan:

    After breaking both ankles during competition last year, this Wolverine junior had to sit out five of six events at the recent Olympic trials when one of the ankles swelled up. But the 2012 NCAA High Bar champ’s work on the pommel horse was good enough to earn him the nod, joining another college student, Oklahoma’s Jake Dalton, on the team. When he heard he’d qualified, Mikulak summed up his thoughts on Twitter by saying, “YESSSSSS!!! I love today. Thank you everyone, friends, fans, and my great family! Olympics and London bound here I come.”

  4. Emmanuel Narty, Weston College:

    This business management student is one of 7,500 at Weston College in North Somerset, United Kingdom. But he’s also the top black belt in all of Africa and 23rd in the world. He started studying judo at the age of 9 and earned his black belt at 17. Now 29, he will stand and fight for his home nation of Ghana at the Olympics. Narty is also a tank trooper in the British Army; he says both the school and the Army are giving him time off to pursue his dream of winning a gold medal.

  5. Alise Post, San Diego University:

    As she says on her Twitter page, this 21-year-old college student races kids’ BMX bikes around dirt obstacle courses for a living … and it’s fun. BMX Super Cross Racing, or Bicycle Motocross, is one of the most exciting events in the Summer Games, and Post is one of the most exciting racers to watch. She recently showed off her skills at the 2012 UCI BMX SX Papendal, taking first by launching over a triple jump combo. She left her native Minnesota for college in sunny California, and she says her favorite place to ride is Chula Vista BMX.

  6. Emma Coburn, University of Colorado:

    Coburn has racked up awards during her time on the track team at CU, including being only the second woman ever to win the women’s USA steeplechase while still a college student. She redshirted during the 2012 season to train for London, and on June 29 the 21-year-old proved it was worth it, earning a bid to the Olympics by winning the women’s 3,000 meters steeplechase final. Her teammate, Shalaya Kipp, finished third in the race and secured her own ticket to the Games. After winning, Coburn turned around and hugged Kipp as she crossed the finish line.

  7. Lee Keifer, University of Notre Dame:

    It’s not uncommon for high school grads to take a trip in the summer before they head off to college. For this soon-to-be Notre Dame freshman, the destination is London. At just 17, Keifer is ranked seventh in the world and already has two world championship titles in fencing under her belt, and she’d love to add an Olympic medal to her trophy case before heading back to school. Her father fenced at Duke, and her sister won an NCAA title in fencing at Harvard, but Lee says they didn’t do a good enough job recruiting her to sway her from becoming a Fighting Irish.

  8. Andrew Chetcuti, Georgia Institute of Technology:

    At a school assembly, 10-year-old Andrew Chetcuti informed his classmates he would one day swim in the Olympics for his mother country of Malta. Now, nine years later, his Georgia Tech classmates will be cheering him on as he goes for the gold in men’s 100 meter freestyle. He got the bid through an Olympic rule that allows athletes from smaller countries to compete in events in which they hold their home country’s fastest time. Chetcuti is an all-around athlete, excelling in water polo and setting records in cross country. And as he is studying biomedical engineering at GT, he’s clearly not your average jock.

  9. Shota Iizuka, Tetsuya Tateno, and Chiaki Ishibashi, Chuo University:

    This school in Tokyo has three first-time Olympians in attendance. In July 2010, law student Shota Iizuka brought home Japan’s first World Junior Championships gold medal in the men’s 200 meter dash. He’ll be joined on the track team by teammate Tetsuya Tateno, an accounting major and 400 meter runner. And 21-year-old Chiaki Ishibashi rounds out the trio, seeking victory for Japan in men’s freestyle swimming. Speaking of his chances, Ishibashi probably spoke for all three when he said, “Everyone there will be really good, but I think I have what it takes to hang in all the way to the end.”

  10. Haley Ishimatsu, Duke University:

    Before an elbow fracture ended her career, this Blue Devil had been a gymnast for eight years. Her sister had been a diver at USC and no doubt influenced Haley to try the sport out. The result was an Olympic berth in 2008, where she managed a fifth place finish in 10 meter synchronized diving. A top finish at the USA Diving Winter National Championships this year makes her one of the favorites in London, so keep an eye on her. You may be treated to a three-and-a-half somersault pike dive, a move only a handful of female divers can pull off.