9 athletes with Iowa connections competing in Tokyo

Japan 2020

Kenny Bednarek of the United States competes in the men’s 200 meters heats at the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

TOKYO — The long-awaited Tokyo Olympics kick off this week, and several athletes with Iowa ties will be competing on the world stage.

The Olympics Opening Ceremony takes place Friday, July 23. The games will run through Sunday, Aug. 8.

Here are nine athletes with Iowa connections who are competing in Tokyo.

Yinka Ajayi (track and field)  

Nigeria’s Yinka Ajayi competes in the athletics women’s 400m heats during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 9, 2018. (SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Country: Nigeria

Age: 23 

Olympic event: 4×400 meters mixed relay

Iowa connection: Ajayi ran for Drake University this past season. She is Drake’s first-ever current female athlete to compete in the Olympics.  

Career highlights: Ajayi made it to the semifinals in the 400 meters at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. She was on Nigeria’s winning 4×400 meters relay team at the 2018 African Championships and also placed third in the 400 meters at that competition. Ajayi won both the indoor and outdoor 400 meters at the Missouri Valley Conference Championships this past season.   

Kenny Bednarek (track and field)  

Indian Hills’ Kenny Bednarek walks off the track after winning the men’s special 200-meter dash at the Drake Relays athletics meet, Friday, April 26, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Country: USA

Age: 22 

Olympic event: 200 meters and 4×100 meters relay

Iowa connection: Bednarek ran for Indian Hills Community College from 2018-19 before turning professional. 

Career highlights: Bednarek finished second in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials in June. Bednarek competed in the 200 meters at the 2019 IAAF World Outdoor Championships. While at Indian Hills, he won NJCAA national outdoor titles in the 200 meters and 400 meters. 

Hillary Bor (track and field) 

Hillary Bor celebrates after winning in the finals of the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Friday, June 25, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Country: USA

Age: 31 

Olympic event: 3,000 meters steeplechase

Iowa connection: Bor ran for Iowa State University from 2007-11.  

Career highlights: Bor placed seventh in the 3000 meters steeplechase at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He won the 2019 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase and went on to place eighth at the 2019 IAAF World Championships. As a Cyclone, he finished runner-up in the 3,000 meters steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2009. 

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Bridget Carleton (basketball)

Iowa State guard Bridget Carleton during an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Country: Canada 

Age: 24 

Olympic event: women’s basketball

Iowa connection: Carleton was a four-year starter on the Iowa State University women’s basketball team from 2015-19. 

Career highlights: Carleton has played for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA since 2019. She was named Big 12 Player of the Year her senior year at Iowa State and earned the Cheryl Miller Award for the nation’s top small forward. She also represented Canada at the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.  

Thomas Gilman (wrestling)

Thomas Gilman

Country: USA

Age: 27 

Olympic event: freestyle 57 kg

Iowa connection: Gilman was a three-time NCAA All-American at the University of Iowa. He was born in Council Bluffs.  

Career highlights: Gilman was runner-up at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships. While at Iowa, he finished runner-up at the NCAA Championships in 2016. He was a Big Ten champion in 2017. He was also a four-time Nebraska state champion.  

Candelaria Herrera (volleyball)

Argentina’s Candelaria Herrera reacts after winning a point during the Women’s Volleyball Bronze Medal against Brazil in the Lima 2019 Panamerican Games in Lima on August 11, 2019. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

Country: Argentina

Age: 22

Olympic event: volleyball

Iowa connection: Herrera has played middle blocker at Iowa State University since 2018. She is the first Cyclone volleyball player to ever be selected by her home country for the Olympics.

Career highlights: Herrera has played for Argentina’s senior national team 18 times. She helped lead Argentina to the bronze medal at the 2019 Pan-American Games. It was the first time Argentina medaled in women’s volleyball at the Pan-American Games.

Michael Ohioze (track and field)

Michael Ohioze looks on after winning the men’s 400m Heat 4 on Day One of the British Athletics Championships on June 25, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Country: Great Britain

Age: 26

Olympic event: 4×400 meters relay

Iowa connection: Ohioze ran for St. Ambrose University in Davenport, graduating in 2017. He was initially an all-conference soccer player at St. Ambrose but took up track in the offseason to stay fit. He went on to become the most decorated track and field athlete in St. Ambrose history.

Career highlights: Ohioze was named one of the five members of Great Britain’s 4×400 meters relay team after finishing third (46.42s) in the 400 meters at the British Championships in June. Ohioze was a 10-time NAIA All-American in track and field.

Ariana Orrego (artistic gymnastics)

Iowa State’s Ariana Orrego competes during an NCAA gymnastics meet against Illinois State on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Norman, Ill. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Country: Peru

Age: 22 

Olympic event: individual all-around

Iowa connection: Orrego has competed at Iowa State University since 2018. She is the first Iowa State female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics.  

Career highlights: Orrego became the first-ever Peruvian gymnast to compete at the Olympics when she competed in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.  

Karissa Schweizer (track and field) 

Karissa Schweizer competes in the Women’s 5000 Meter Final during day four of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 21, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Country: USA 

Age: 25 

Olympic event: 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters 

Iowa connection: Schweizer is an Urbandale native and graduated from Dowling Catholic High School.

Career highlights: Schweizer holds the American record in the indoor 3,000 meters. She placed ninth in the 5,000 meters at the 2019 IAAF World Championships. While at the University of Missouri, she won the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship and won five individual NCAA titles in track and field. 

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