Six former Baylor athletes compete in Olympics

United States's Brittney Griner (15) poses with her gold medal during the medal ceremony for women's basketball at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

Baylor University was represented at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with six former Bears competing in multiple events for three different countries. Wil London and KC Lightfoot made their Olympic debuts, joining returning Olympians Brittney Griner and Trayvon Bromell to compete for Team USA. Ekpe Udoh made his Olympic debut for the Nigerian men’s basketball team while John Peers returned to the Olympics to represent Australia in men’s tennis. But no matter what country they’re representing in the Olympics, Peers said that deep down, they’re all still Baylor Bears.

“It doesn’t matter how far you step away or how long you’re a part of the family, you’re always a Baylor Bear for life,” Peers said in an interview with Baylor Bear Insider. “That’s probably the biggest thing that people don’t understand about the Baylor community.”

London was a part of the pool for the mixed 4x400m relay, and although he ultimately did not compete in the event, the team did win bronze. Bromell was heavily favored to win both of his events but ended up not making the finals in either after finishing third in a semifinal heat of the men’s 100m race. Bromell then took part in the men’s 4x100m relay and placed sixth in their heat after a disappointing performance.

Lightfoot, who decided to go pro last track season to focus on training for the Olympics, saw his hard work pay off as he tied for fourth in the men’s pole vault. Brittney Griner helped the U.S women’s basketball team continue their dominance in the Olympics after putting up 30 points in their gold medal match against Japan to help earn them a 90-75 victory, as well as their seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal in the event. After asking for some BBQ sauce to go with her 30-piece, Griner shared why it’s so important for her to show up and give her all in these moments and for these games.

“We could easily not show up to certain ones (camps, tournaments) pick and choose,” Griner said. “But every lady that came before me and are here now, whenever USAB calls, we’re there. We put in the time and effort. We have mothers on this team; that’s a lot they’re leaving at home. But we always put USA basketball first.”

After shocking the world with their exhibition win against team USA, Udoh and the Nigerian men’s basketball team were not able to carry that momentum into the Olympics, losing all three games in the group stage. Peers competed in both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles for Australia, winning a bronze medal in the latter with teammate Ashleigh Barty.

While not all the Baylor athletes were gold medalists in this year’s Olympics, they did prove that they are some of the best athletes in the world. Baylor track and field head coach Michael Ford says that’s what’s truly important.

“That’s one of the things we talk about is making our student-athletes reach the highest level, and the highest level is the Olympics and World Championships,” Ford said. “So when we have athletes like KC Lightfoot, Trayvon Bromell, Wil London, just on our recent ones to make the Olympic team, it’s a huge honor because they’re representing the U.S. but they’re also representing Baylor University.”