2 alumni, track coach to compete in London Olympics

By Luke Holthouse 

Three alumni, who once wore the red and black on Wolverine athletic teams, and a track coach will compete on the world stage at 2012 London Olympics, which open July 27. 

Water polo player Peter Hudnut ‘99 returns to the Olympics four years after bringing a silver medal home from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Rower Alex Osborne ‘05 qualified for his first Olympics last month as a member of the quadruple sculls boat rowing team. Unlike the other two athletes playing for Team USA, Ali Riley ‘06 will make her second appearance at the Olympic Games representing New Zealand’s women’s soccer team.

Track and field team assistant coach Felix Sanchez, the 2004 Olympics 400 meter hurdles gold medalist, will join the three former Wolverines at the Olympics, not as a member of Team USA but representing the Dominican Republic.

Peter Hudnut ’99

Hudnut returns to his quest for the gold on July 29 when the US water polo team will take on Montenegro in preliminary group play. The US men’s water polo team shocked the sports world in 2008 when it reached the medal stand as the ninth ranked team in the world going into the Olympics. However, Hudnut was disappointed that the US team fell one game short of winning a gold medal to top-ranked Hungary. Hudnut told ESPN that he has always dreamed of winning a gold medal at the Olympics, and that last year’s final defeat has motivated him and his
teammates for this summer’s games.

“In a sport like ours, you don’t win a silver medal,” he told ESPN. “You lose the gold-medal match. I didn’t come back for a silver medal. This is about our team’s final stand together. This is our last chance.”

Hudnut won three Mission League Championships with the boys’ water polo team at Harvard-Westlake between 1997-99.

Alex Osborne ’05

Osborne also competed collegiately at Stanford. While Osborne did not row competitively for Harvard-Westlake, he played basketball for the Wolverines and was a part of the program that won four straight CIF Championships from 2002-05. Osborne has also represented the U.S. at multiple international competitions including the last year’s World Rowing Championships where his team placed eighth. 

Ali Riley ’06

Riley competed with New Zealand’s women’s national soccer team at the 2008 Olympics. The team went 0-2-1 and did not advance out of group play. This year, the team begins competition on July 25 when it takes on Great Britain. Riley also played collegiately at Stanford after graduating from Harvard-Westlake. Riley was a part of the girl’s soccer program at Harvard-Westlake that won four straight Mission League Championships between 2003-2006. Riley currently plays for a professional soccer team in Sweden in addition to the national team in New Zealand.

Riley was also born and raised in the United States, but has a dual citizenship between the US and New Zealand.

Felix Sanchez

Sanchez, nicknamed “Super Felix,” won the first gold medal ever for the Dominican Republic in 2004 and hopes to medal again in his specialty, the 400 meter hurdles. Sanchez qualified for the 400m hurdles at the 2008 Olympics, but he was unable to medal because of an injury.

Joanna Hayes

Fellow track and field team assistant coach Joanna Hayes qualified for the US track and field team Olympic trials in the women’s 100m hurdles, but was unable to make the Olympic team during the trials. She won a gold medal in her event at the 2004 Olympics and was hindered by injuries at the 2008 Olympics.

Amy Weissenbach ’12

Amy Weissenbach ’12 also qualified for the US track and field Olympic trials for the girls’ 800 meter after running an 800 in 2:02.04 at the California State Meet in 2011. However, she was unable to match that time at this year’s Olympic Trials and finished the race in 2:06.46. She filed a protest after being impeded by other runners, but her appeal was rejected.

“Unfortunately, as I was building out of the curve [on the final lap], the two girls in front of me took a spill and tripped over each other, and I tripped with them,” Weissenbach told FloTrack. “I stayed up, but I lost a lot of ground.”

Weissenbach will run cross country and track at Stanford next year. She will be 22 years old by the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero.

Dara Torres ’85

While Weissenbach will have plenty more opportunities to compete in Olympic Games, the 2012 Olympics represented the last chance for swimmer Dara Torres ’85 to compete for the US Olympic team. Torres, who won a gold medal in the women’s 4×100 relay as a junior at Westlake during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, failed to qualify for womens 50m freestyle. She needed a time of 24.73 to qualify for the Olympic team, but swam only a 24.82 at the Olympic trials. She retired after this year’s Olympic trials with a career total of 12 Olympic medals.

“It’s disappointing but there’s nothing else I could have done,” Torres told a Washington Post reporter after the race, adding that she was retiring from competition following the Olympic trials.

Opening ceremonies in London begin on July 27.

Additional reporting by Michael Aronson. 

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