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ASU at the Olympics: Sun Devils leave Rio after successful showing

We run down the list of Sun Devils - new and old - that made the trek out to Rio to represent their country at the highest level.

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The Olympics aren't just the greatest sporting competition to exist, they're a bi-annual demonstration of unity and appreciation of culture, bringing together nations on opposite sides of the world from each other all in the name of sport.

The most notable athlete with ASU connections now has 28 medals to his name after Rio's competitions, but Michael Phelps was not among the 26 ASU representatives that made make the trek to Rio.

The group of current and former Sun Devil athletes competed for thirteen different countries, and in nine different sports. In addition to the competing athletes, ASU had two of its current head coaches representing their country on the international stage.

With the festivities in Rio all wrapped up, let's take a look at the Sun Devils who were there and recap how they performed in the XXXI Olympiad.


Ike Diogu, Nigeria - Ike still balls? It appears that way, as the former ASU star and NBA player suited up for his home country of Nigeria for his second Olympic Games, playing in every game as the Nigerians were eliminated in the group stage.


Bob Bowman, Head Coach, USA  - Shortly after taking over the swim and dive program for the Sun Devils in 2015, Bowman was promoted from assistant to head coach of the U.S. Olympic team for Rio, and after his team's performance he looks to be in line to be tabbed again in 2020.

The American swimmers provided the most medals towards their country's medal count with 33, and Bowman's team came home with an astonishing 16 gold medals, which would've placed them fifth among the country rankings.

Katarina Simonović, Serbia - The 21-year-old ASU senior showed marked improvement in Bowman's first season at the helm, posting personal bests in two events last season and carried that into her representation of her home country at Rio.

However she wasn't able to replicate the performance she put on at Pac-12's at the Olympics, finishing 30th in the 200m freestyle with a time fifteen seconds slower than her college-best and 23rd in the 400m free, an event she doesn't swim at the collegiate level.

Richard Bohus, Hungary - Another senior whose performances hit a peak in Bowman's first year, swimming a personal best in the 100 back to lead ASU's men to its first men victory over Arizona since 2002.

He didn't medal at Rio, but helped his country finish ninth in the 4x100 medley relay and took 24th in the 100 free. He would've had another event to his name if Hungary hadn't been disqualified from the 4x100 freestyle relay.

Gal Nevo, Israel - Competing in his second Olympics after making his country's squad in 2012, Nevo competed in three events and finished near the middle of the pack in each. His best event was the 200m individual medley, finishing 17th with a time of 1.59.80.

Anna Olasz, Hungary - A marathon swimmer, Olasz placed 14th out of 25 competitors in the women's 10k marathon, the only event the 22-year-old competed in at the Games.

Having only qualified for the Olympics after a Russian swimmer was disqualified for doping violations, the recently-graduated Sun Devil's final swim may have come as an Olympian.


Michele Benedetti, Italy - The 31-year-old competed in his first Olympic Games, looking to secure a medal in international competition for the first time since taking bronze in the 3-meter springboard at the European Championships in 2009. He made it through to the semifinal of the 3-meter in Rio, but wasn't able to progress further and was eliminated as the 17th overall finisher.

Constantin Blaha, Austria - Another former Sun Devil who competed in the 3-meter springboard, Blaha finished 27th in the preliminaries and failed to advance to the semi-final round.


Amy Cragg, USA - One of five Sun Devils that competed for the Americans, Cragg entered Rio as the freshly-minted American champion in the marathon, winning at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She failed to medal in at the marathon in Rio but finished ninth, an impressive result considering there were 133 finishers with many more competitors failing to cross the finish line.

Desiree Linden, USA - Finishing two spots ahead of Cragg in the marathon was her countryman and fellow Sun Devil Desiree Linden, who placed second behind Cragg in the U.S. Trials but usurped her once the Olympics came around. Linden, who competed in London, finished the marathon in 2:26:08.

Donald Sanford - Israel - Sanford, who was an All-American at ASU in 2010 and was the runner-up in the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters, competed for his home country at Rio in the same event, finishing 30th and failing to make it through the preliminary rounds.

Christabel Nettey, Canada - Another former star for the Sun Devils on the track, Nettey took second at the 2013 NCAA's in the women's long jump and looked to earn her way onto the podium as she represented Canada in the long jump in Rio. She finished 20th of 38 with a jump of 6.37 meters.

Marcus Duncan, Trinidad and Tobago - The former Pac-10 runner-up in the 100 meter dash, Duncan looked to contribute to his team's ascension to the podium in the 4x100 and performed well enough in the qualifying round to finish fifth and make it through to the finals. But a disqualification marred Trinidad and Tobago's finals race, and the former Sun Devil left Rio without any hardware.

Chris Benard, USA - We last saw Benard as a Sun Devil in 2012, where he broke the school indoor record in the triple jump and won the Pac-12 title in the triple jump at the outdoor competition. His first trip to the Olympics came in Rio, and he placed 16th out of 39 with a jump of 16.55 meters.

Shelby Houlihan, USA - You'll remember Houlihan as the 2014 NCAA Champion in the 1500 meters and a school record-holder in four separate events. The 23-year-old qualified to race in the 1500 at Rio, after stating in interviews she expected to qualify for the 2020 Olympics rather than this year's, and finished in 11th in the 1500 meters at the Olympics.


Jay Shi, USA - The 37-year-old graduated from ASU in 2004 with a degree in computer science, but he's been making news in 2016 after qualifying for the Rio Games as a shooter. Competing in the 10 meter air pistol and 50 meter air pistol events, Shi finished 18th in the 10m and 14th in the 50m, all while competing with a visual impairment suffered in childhood.


Cliff English, Head Coach, Australia/Costa Rica - The first head coach of the Pac-12's first Division 1 women's triathlon program, English coached two individual athletes at the Rio Games, Leo Chacon of Costa Rica and Ashleigh Gentle of Australia. Chacon finished 30th in the individual triathlon while Gentle placed 26th out of 48 in the women's individual triathlon.

Erin Densham, Australia - Densham, who didn't attend Arizona State but was a recent hire by English as an assitant to the new program, has a strong history of good performanes at the international level. Competing in Beijing in 2008 as well as London in 2012 - where she took home a bronze medal - Densham finished 12th in the women's triathlon in her third time at the Games.

Women's Golf

Anna Nordqvist, Sweden - Nordqvist looked on the doorstep of taking home a medal in the women's individual final after her Round 3 finish catapulted her up to third overall, but a 69 on the final day prevented her from staying on the podium and she slipped down the 11th overall out of 59 participants.

Carlota Ciganda, Spain - Ciganda's 67 in Round 1 had her fourth on the leaderboard, but she fell apart over the next three days, carding a 72, 78 and 73 to finish 39th overall.

Azahara Munoz, Spain - Similar to Ciganda, Munoz started hot with a seventh place finish on the first day but couldn't keep the pace up through the weekend, finishing 21st overall when things were said and done.

Miriam Nagl, Brazil - The 35-year-old's best showings came over the weekend, posting a 15th place and 21st place finish in the final two rounds. But the solid turnaround couldn't make up for her poor showings the first two days and Nagl placed 52nd overall.

Giulia Molinaro, Italy - One spot behind Nagl on the final leaderboard, Molinaro's best showing came on the final day with a 22nd place finish that helped launch her out of the basement of the leaderboard to a 53rd place finish.

Water Polo

Viviane Bahia, Brazil - Playing for the host country, the 22-year-old's first trip to the Olympics were an experience unlike any other. However, her team's performance left much to be desired. The Brazilians lost their first two group games before falling to the United States 13-3 in the quarter-finals.

Izabella Chiappini, Brazil - Same story, different athlete. Chiappini, who enters the 2016-17 season as a senior on the ASU squad, was one of Brazil's top players in the Rio Games.

Rowie Webster, Australia - A former Sun Devil who competed for her country in the 2012 Games, Webster helped lead her team to the quarter-finals of the Olympics after splitting its group games, falling by one goal to Hungary.