Alumni Berens, Richards-Ross Go for Gold in London
Swimmer Ricky Berens, BBA '10, and track star and former student Sanya Richards-Ross, will be strong gold-medal contenders at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London July 27-Aug. 12.
Berens, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, will swim both the 4x200 and 4x100 relay events and will compete in his first-ever individual Olympic race. He learned the good news from, of all sources, Twitter.
Berens finished third in the 200-meter freestyle race at the Olympic trials, high enough to once again earn a spot on the relay team, but one place out of contention to swim the individual event in London. But then on July 2, Michael Phelps' coach Bob Bowman announced via Twitter that Phelps was withdrawing from the 200, meaning Berens would take his place.
"WAIT WHAT!!!" Berens wrote as he retweeted Bowman's announcement. Minutes later he posted another tweet saying, "Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now. If Twitter is right, I am swimming the 200 free at the Olympics!!!!! This is nuts!!!" USA Swimming later officially confirmed the news.
In a May interview with USA Swimming, Berens talked about the usefulness of his finance degree in managing his career.
"As a professional swimmer, I am running in effect my own business. So I always look at what’s going on in the business world, I followed the big Facebook IPO, but in a few more years, I do plan to use that degree even more."
Heats for the men's 200-meter freestyle and 4x100 freestyle relay begin on July 29 and the 4x200 freestyle relay competition kicks off July 31.
Bronze in Beijing wasn't enough for former finance student Sanya Richards-Ross, who made her third Olympic team by winning the women's 400-meter dash with a U.S. Olympic Trials record-tying time of 49.28 seconds.
"Making my 3rd Olympic Team is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Richards-Ross tweeted on July 4. "I've never been more focused, determined, excited! It's everything."
Richards-Ross won gold in the 4x400-meter relay in 2004 and 2008, but was also plagued by health problems and was disappointed with her third-place individual finish in 2008.
But the past three seasons have seen a stronger and healthier Richards-Ross, earning her multiple national and world championships and induction into The University of Texas Hall of Honor.
Longhorn fans will of course recognize the track star's husband, former UT football defensive All-American Aaron Ross. He'll take a break from NFL training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars to watch Richards-Ross compete in person.
Round 1 of the women's 400-meter dash is Aug. 3, with the 4x400 relay following Aug. 9.
- New York Times Olympics Blog "Healthy and Happy, Richards-Ross Ties Trials Record in 400"
- Follow @SanyaRichiRoss on Twitter
And rounding out our roster of McCombs Olympians is C. Mark Chassay, BBA '88, who will serve as chief medical officer for Team USA at the Paralympic Games, also in London, Aug. 29-Sept. 9. Chassay, the deputy executive commissioner at Texas Health and Human Services, was previously the head team physician for UT Athletics and continues as an assistant team physician.