21 Penn Staters set to participate in Tokyo Olympics

July 20, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – As the long-awaited start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics nears, Penn State will have a strong presence with 21 participants representing five countries when the Games of the XXXII Olympiad begin competition July 21. The Tokyo Olympics were delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For exclusive content and information on Penn State’s Olympians, including a full listing of Penn State's Tokyo 2020 Olympians by sport and graduation year, visit GoPSUSports.com.

The Opening Ceremonies for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics take place Friday, July 23 and the closing ceremonies are Sunday, August 8. The first Penn Staters in action are former Nittany Lion standout Alyssa Naeher and current head coach Erica Dambach when the women’s soccer team takes on Sweden Wednesday, July 21 at 4:30 a.m. (ET).

Not including the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, where 65 countries did not participate, Penn State has sent athletes to each Summer Olympic Games since 1948, a streak of 18 consecutive Games. Penn State sent a school-record 22 competitors and coaches to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The 2020 Nittany Lion contingent consists of 15 competitors in eight sports, including both male and female competitors in swimming and volleyball, an assistant coach in women’s soccer, a head coach in women’s basketball, a team physician in women’s gymnastics and three personal coaches in wrestling for a total of 10 sports with Penn State representation. Fifteen Penn Staters will represent the United States, two will represent Mexico, two will represent Japan and one each will represent Ireland and Egypt.

Penn State’s 2020 Olympians:

  • 13 former student-athletes competing (9 USA, 1 Mexico, 1 Japan, 1 Egypt, 1 Ireland)
  • 1 current student-athlete competing (Mexico)
  • 1 former student-athlete coaching (Japan)
  • 4 current coaches coaching (USA)
  • 1 former club student competing (USA)
  • 1 former student-athlete serving as team physician (USA)

Men’s volleyball standout Matt Anderson is competing in his third Olympic Games after appearances in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. Four Penn Staters are making their second Olympic Games appearance after competing in Rio in 2016: Max Holt (men’s volleyball), Joe Kovacs (men’s track and field), Alyssa Naeher (women’s soccer), Shane Ryan (men’s swimming; Ireland).

Women’s soccer head coach Erica Dambach is coaching in the Olympics for the second time as an assistant coach for the US women’s soccer team. She also served as an assistant coach for the US in the 2008 games in Beijing. Men’s basketball letterman Tom Hovasse is in his second Olympic Games as the head coach of Japan’s women’s basketball team.

In addition to the above contingent, Penn State also will be represented in Tokyo by the following competitors: David Taylor (wrestling), Micha Hancock (women’s volleyball), Haleigh Washington (women’s volleyball), Kaito Streets (men’s fencing; Japan), Mohamed Hassan (men’s fencing; Egypt), Andrew Mackiewicz (men’s fencing), Melissa Rodriguez (women’s swimming; Mexico), Gabe Castano (men’s swimming; Mexico), Michael Shuey (men’s track & field) and Kayla Canett-Oca (rugby).

Penn State wrestling coaches Cael Sanderson, Casey Cunningham and Cody Sanderson are serving as personal coaches at the Tokyo Olympics, while former women’s gymnastics standout Dr. Ellen Casey is the women’s gymnastics team physician for the United States.

Including Taylor, there will be seven Nittany Lion Wrestling Club members wrestling in Tokyo: Thomas Gilman, Kyle Snyder, Helen Maroulis, Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico), Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Uzbekistan) and Jane Valencia (Mexico).

In addition to the 21 competitors and coaches, a trio of Nittany Lions were selected as Olympic alternates: Aaron Russell (men’s volleyball), Megan Courtney (women’s volleyball) and Erin McCloud (women’s soccer; Canada).

The 10 first-time Olympians boost Penn State’s total to 118 all-time competitors or coaches (not selections).

Penn State competitors have won 33 medals, including five gold-medal efforts, from its 108 previous Olympians. The Nittany Lions’ record contingent at the London Games won one silver and four bronze medals in men’s track and field (Joe Kovacs), men’s fencing (Miles Chamley-Watson), women’s fencing (Monica Aksamit), women’s volleyball (Christa Harmotto Dietzen and Alisha Glass) and men’s volleyball (Matt Anderson, Max Holt and Aaron Russell).

Last Updated July 20, 2021