From campus to competition: 10 college Olympians to know

Rio de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games from Aug. 5-21.

This summer, an elite group of college students have little time to plan for fall semester. They’re getting ready for something very different: the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The summer games, behind held Aug. 5 -21, have more than their share of controversies. A growing number of Russian athletes, including the entire Track and Field team, are banned due to doping scandals; construction has been delayed; the water where some sports will compete has “alarmingly high levels of viruses and bacteria”; and the Zika virus has many people worried. It’s enough to make you wonder who’s going to show up.

But controversy has never stopped the Olympics before — and for good reason. It’s where the world’s most ambitious athletes at the peak of their sports careers compete their hearts out. Decades of training will culminate in Brazil where the best of the best will keep their eyes on the prize.

Check out the list below to see just some of the top collegiate athletes who will test their skills to the max.

1. Devon Allen

The University of Oregon student is one of 18 current and former Ducks Olympians, according to oregonlive.Com. He’ll represent in the 110m hurdles, but isn’t just a Track and Field star — at least, not at school. Allen also excels at football, and is a wide receiver for the Ducks football team.

According to The Register-Guard, Allen will miss fall football camp to compete in Rio, but he still plans to play for the Ducks this coming season.

Allen almost lost his chance at Rio when he hurt his knee during the 2015 Rose Bowl. He missed the next track season and laid low on the field so as not to hurt his Olympics chances, reported espn.Go.Com. The plan worked.

2. Kelsey Card

Card, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2016, is another Track and Field star, but in the Discus Throw. She’ll be the seventh UW women’s Track and Field athlete to compete in the Olympics and the first in a field event, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.

Prior to making the U.S. Olympic Team, Card made history by becoming the first woman to throw 18.5 meters in shot put, 61 meters in discus, and complete a 60 meter hammer throw.

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Who keeps her grounded? Her fiancé Andrew Bartsch, who she met at a summer track camp in high school, she tells Big 1070, a Madison sports radio station. “I feel reassured when I’m looking at him,” she said.

3. Ryan Crouser

The University of Texas athlete will compete in the Shot Put. In an interview with Team USA, Crouser called Rio “the biggest competition of his life.” Athletic prowess runs in the Crouser family: Brian Crouser, Ryan Crouser’s uncle, threw the javelin for the United States in 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

On his “My Family’s Road to Rio” Facebook page, Crouse writes, “I started throwing javelin at the age of five and since then I have always had the dream of making an Olympic team.”.

He only recently “appeared on the national scene,” according to the Portlandtribune.Com, but did pretty darn great for himself in high school, as well.

4. Madison Kocian

University of California Los Angeles commit Kocian is a member of the Women’s Gymnastics team.

According to her website, Kocian began gymnastics at the age of 6 and has been a fierce competitor ever since. She was named to the U.S. Senior National Team in 2013 and has subsequently competed all over the world.

Making the final five was a close call, reported UCLA student newspaper the Daily Bruin. Despite being a member of Team USA at the last two World Gymnastics Championships and the reigning world champion on the uneven bars, she was going toe to toe with uneven bars’ competitor Ashton Locklear, inching head of her point-wise in the trials, the newspaper reported.

5. Jarrion Lawson

A member of the University of Arkansas’ Class of 2016, Lawson will represent in the Long Jump. During his collegiate career, Lawson was the first man since Jesse Owens to win the 100m and 200m races in addition to the Long Jump at the NCAA Championships. Six Razorbacks landed on Team USA for the 2016 Summer Olympics, reported student newspaper The Arkansas Traveler.

Lawson already has an endorsement deal with the sneaker brand Asics, according to ESPN.Com.

Like many of the athletes going to the games, Lawson’s home town, Texarkana, Texas, is proud of its star. The people of Texarkana even threw him a big party after he qualified to go to Rio.

“It definitely helps me knowing that I have a lot of people back home supporting me a lot, that will be watching on TV and just to have that type of support system, I know a lot of people, a lot of athletes don’t have a big support system and just to have the city, church family, even my own family behind me it’s definitely going to prepare me for it,” Lawson told KTBS.Com.

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6. Katie LeDecky

LeDecky will represent the USA in the 200m Free 400m Free, and 800m Free relay swim competitions. A Stanford University commit, she had deferred her enrollment there for the 2015-16 academic year to train, The Washington Post reported.

LeDecky actually started her Olympic career in 2012, when she was just 15. In London, she won a gold medal in the 800m freestyle.

“You can tell she is very goal oriented, and for me it brings me back to kind of what I was like way, way, way back in the day,” Michael Phelps, who’s returning to the Olympics for his fifth “attempt” — he’s already won 22 medals — tells USA TODAY. ” Every time she gets in the water, it’s like a world record.”.

Her attitude about the competition? At least her family will get a family reunion out of it, she modestly tells USA TODAY. “Four years ago I had a lot of family come, about 30 family members come, and I have about 50, 55 coming this time. … Four years ago that was really nice for me because I kind of thought, ‘OK, if I don’t make the team, my family is still getting a family reunion out of this,’ and it’s kind of that same approach this time, too.”.

7. Jay Litherland

Talk about a family of champions.

Jay, 20, a rising junior at the University of Georgia where he’s studying business, may have made it to the Olympics in the 400m IM, but he wasn’t alone during the trials: Also competing were his brothers, Kevin and Mick. And not just any brothers — the Litherlands are triplets.

Ultimately, only Jay qualified, and he tells USA TODAY that training will be the longest he’s been away from his siblings.

Litherland is a man of threes. In addition to being a triplet, he’s a citizen of the U.S., New Zealand and Japan. His mother is from Japan, his father from New Zealand, and they moved to the U.S. When the boys were 3, according to USA TODAY.

But Litherland is not the only Bulldog swimmer heading to Rio. Chase Kalisz finished first in the 400m trial and so of course is also on his way. The two beat the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte in the event. Student newspaper The Red & Black reported that Kalisz postponed senior year to train.

8. Josh Prenot

Prenot, a student at the University of California Berkeley, will represent the USA in the 200m Breast.

The swimmer — who potentially will graduate this fall, according to the Berkeley News — won his first NCAA title in 2016.

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He’s also something of a brainiac: Prenot is a Physics major.

“Every since he came in, we have shuffled his schedule to make everything fit,” Claudia Trujillo, student services manager in the physics department and Prenot’s academic adviser, tells the newspaper.

“He’s studying physics, but he breaks a lot of stereotypes. He’s proof that you can do what you want.”.

He also seems to be be pretty humble.

In fact, it wasn’t easy to find a tweet on his feed that included him.

9. Rebecca Quinn

Duke University student Quinn will compete on the Canada Women’s Soccer National team. Rio won’t be Quinn’s first time playing on a big stage. The Duke Chroniclereported that Quinn, who’s Canadian, competed in many high-profile tournaments including the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2012.

She’s taken some needed time to reach her goals. Now listed as a first semester junior, Quinn had chosen not to enroll spring semester to compete with the Canada National Team as it went for an Olympic spot, and had taken off spring semester of 2015 to prepare for the World Cup with the squad (though she didn’t make the roster).

Making the Olympic team was “a pretty surreal experience,” Quinn told The Duke Chronicle. “Ever since I was a child, ever since I can remember in grade one, I had written what I wanted to do when I was older was be an Olympian. Having the ability to check off the box of a childhood dream was pretty amazing and also seeing the pride that my parents had because there’s so much that goes into it.”.

10. Courtney Frerichs

A graduate student at the University of New Mexico, Frerichs will compete for the USA in Steeplechase, which is basically a track race with obstacles. USA TODAY describes it as having “28 barriers, seven water jumps and countless opportunities for disaster.”.

During the trials she came in second — after trailing in seventh place.

Frerichs’ “late burst,” reported student newspaper the Daily Lobo, was a good sign that she’s able to compete against the country’s best runners, as she had “not really been challenged by other competitors in the steeplechase event … Winning most of the races with a wide margin of victory.”.

“It still doesn’t feel quite real,” Frerichs told the News-Leader. “It’s been such a dream of mine for so long, and the idea that I’ve actually done it, I still can’t believe it.”.

Jaime Gordon is a student at Duke University and a USA TODAY College correspondent.

This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.

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