Pilots Represent At Olympics

By The Beacon | August 29, 2012 9:00pm

Alumnae soccer stars Megan Rapinoe (‘08), Christine Sinclair (‘05) and Sophie Schmidt (‘10) played vital roles representing Team USA and Team Canada. ‘08 track and field star Derek Mandell also Repres

From left to right, UP alums Sophie Schmidt, Megan Rapinoe and Christine Sinclair proudly display their Olympic medals following the Medal Ceremony in London after the 2012 Olympics. Rapinoe took home gold for the USA after defeating Canada and Japan, while Schmidt and Sinclair took Bronze after beating France. (Photo courtesy of portlandpilots.com)

By Kyle Cape-Lindelin, Staff Commentary

As droves of fresh and returning student faces begin flooding The Bluff, keep a close eye on some of our current athletes. You might be looking at a future Olympian.

UP proudly had four alums represent the USA, Canada and Guam this summer at the 2012 Olympics in London. They not only competed for their country, but they showed that UP can produce and recruit world-class athletes.

Class of 2008 graduate Megan Rapinoe helped lead Team USA women's soccer to a gold medal over Japan 2-1 in what was sweet revenge following a 2-1 loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup. Rapinoe also took part in arguably the most exciting and competitive event in London, which pitted the UP alums Christine Sinclair ('05) and Sophie Schmidt ('10) against Rapinoe in the Team USA vs. Team Canada semifinal showdown.

For who that missed out, Team USA pulled out the win 4-3, with the game decided by penalty kicks. The real story, however, is that Rapinoe and Sinclair scored five out of the total seven goals scored by both teams. The former teammates, with the distinct and cherished honor of bringing UP a National Championship in 2005, went back and forth against each other, the game ending in a dramatic fashion as Team USA's Alex Morgan scored the winning goal on penalty kicks.

While Rapinoe and Team USA came out the winner, Sinclair's dominance in international play cannot be overstated. Sinclair now registers 143 career goals in international play, just 15 shy of the legendary Mia Hamm's all-time record of 158. Schmidt also deserves recognition for being in the starting lineup every game in the Olympics and providing our friends up North with a Bronze medal.

But soccer isn't the only venue in which UP athletes competed. Class of 2008 graduate and former track and cross country star Derek Mandell also fulfilled his dream of competing in the Olympics and representing his homeland, Guam. Mandell failed to make it past the first round of his 800m dash, yet he still finished in just under two minutes at 1:58:94. Not bad at all for someone who walked-on to the cross-country team as a freshman. Mandell not only honored his homeland and UP, but also highlighed UP's cross country program, which continues to dominate the WCC. Currently, the cross-country team just broke a 32 year WCC championship record by being edged by BYU last year as well as nine NCAA championship appearances with three top ten finishes.

For the new students and freshmen, welcome to UP, where you can get a great education and walk the same path as future Olympians.

Let me be the first to say that I am proud of our athletes and how they wear their countries colors, yet they never forget their Pilot purple. They are proof of what this university can produce and better yet, what our athletic programs can achieve in the future.