Chicago Olympians to Watch in London
THE GOLD STANDARD: The Summer Games kick off in late July—but for some local athletes, the Olympics begin now
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated from the print version to reflect the latest info on some of the athletes.
Chicago may have missed out on its chance to host the Olympics in 2016, but the city should be well represented when the next installment of the Games opens in London on July 27. Of the many athletes with Chicago ties who hope to compete, here are four athletes (and a coach) you won’t want to miss, as well as four who at presstime had not yet completed their qualifying trials for the U.S. team. (You can catch those trials on NBC and the NBC Sports Network; see info below.)
FIVE TO WATCH IN THE OLYMPICS...
Ellis Coleman, 20
The Oak Park Greco-Roman specialist is the youngest member of the wrestling team. His “flying squirrel” move—where he somersaults over his standing opponent before pinning him to the mat—is a YouTube hit (below).
Bob Willis, 25
The Chicago native and Francis W. Parker High alum will compete in windsurfing in its final year as an Olympic event. He learned the sport at the Columbia Yacht Club and during summer trips to Wolf Lake, Indiana.
Candace Parker, 26
Now that an injured Derrick Rose, the former Simeon High standout, won’t be on the men’s b-ball team, attention turns to this Naperville Central High grad and WNBA star, who will line up with the lady hoopsters.
Matt Grevers, 27
The Lake Forest native and Northwestern alum (he was a three-time NCAA champion) will swim in his second straight Olympics after winning a silver medal at Beijing in the 100-meter backstroke. Watch his poolside marriage proposal below, and read more about Grevers in our 2005 profile.
Doug Bruno, 61
A Chicago lifer, Bruno will serve as an assistant coach on the U.S. women’s national basketball team. He’s been coaching basketball for 40 years, including the last 26 at the helm of DePaul, where he played under legendary coach Ray Meyer.
... AND FOUR WHO ARE STILL COMPETING FOR A SPOT
Anna Li, 23
The Aurora resident, who excels on the uneven bars, will battle for a place on the women’s gymnastics team. The sport is in Li’s blood: Her parents competed for China at the 1984 Olympics. Trials: June 29 and July 1 (NBC)
Christina Loukas, 26
To qualify for her second Olympics, the daughter of Cubby Bear owner George Loukas finished in the top two in the three-meter springboard.
David Sender, 26
The Arlington Heights native is now on leave from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to compete for one of five spots on the men’s gymnastics team. Look out for him on pommel horse. Trials: June 28 to July 1 (NBC)
Sean Rooney, 29
The Wheaton-Warrenville South High grad was a member of the men’s volleyball team that won gold at the Beijing Games and is competing for a spot in London. Rooney had a 10-inch growth spurt in high school before playing at Pepperdine. Team members to be announced by July 7
Photography: (Coleman) Warren Skalski/Chicago Tribune; (Willis) Cristobal Herrara/Chicago Tribune; (Parker) Elaine Thompson; (Grevers) Bob Bukaty/AP; (Bruno) Chicago Tribune; (Li) John Cheng; (Loukas) Kim Ludbrook/Corbis; (Sender) Chicago Tribune; (Rooney) Courtesy of USA Volleyball