The 2016 Summer Olympics came to an end on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Fifteen athletes competing in the games were former Tar Heels.
Of those 15, only one former UNC athlete came home with a medal. Despite a notorious lack of playing time, Harrison Barnes won gold with the USA Men’s Basketball Team. Barnes played in just four of the eight games, and was on the court for a total of 31 minutes. He is now the 10th UNC basketball player to win gold in the Olympics.
The other former UNC basketball player in Rio was LaToya Sanders, who played for Turkey. After going 3-2 in the group stage, Turkey lost on a buzzer beater in the quarterfinals against Spain, just missing out on a chance to play in the medal round. Sanders finished the tournament as the second leading scorer, averaging 22 points and eight rebounds per game.
One of the more surprising non-medalists was the US Women’s Soccer team. Five former Tar Heels missed out on possible medals when the US was upset by Sweden in the quarterfinals. All five played in the tournament, with Crystal Dunn scoring a goal in the group stage. Katie Bowen played for New Zealand, but her team was eliminated in the group stage.
Five former Tar Heels were also on the US Women’s Field Hockey team. The US had never won a gold medal in field hockey, but looked to have a chance to change that after going 4-1 in the group stage. However, the US fell in the quarterfinals, losing to Germany 2-1. Despite that, several UNC alumni had good tournaments. Goalkeeper Jackie Briggs allowed just seven goals in six total games, while Katelyn Falgowski and Caitlin Van Sickle each scored a goal in Rio.
The other two former Tar Heels each competed in track and field events. Vikas Gowda, representing India, competed in his fourth Olympics and was eliminated in the preliminary round of the discus throw. Meanwhile, Shalane Flanagan had a nice showing in the marathon, finishing in sixth place. She was the top American performer, finishing in 2:25:26, which was a little less than a minute behind the bronze medalist.
Despite coming away with just one medal in 2016, having 15 former athletes compete in the Olympics is a nice note for UNC.