Georgia Track & Field Trio Honored At Beijing Olympics

ATHENS, Ga. --- A trio of former Georgia track and field athletes were honored by their native nations as the 2008 Olympic Games began in Beijing.

While former Bulldog and U.S. shot putter Reese Hoffa has been voted the captain of the men’s Olympic team, former Lady Bulldogs Levern Spencer (St. Lucia) and Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie (Bahamas) carried the flag for each of their countries in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Former Georgia swimmerJosh Laban also carried the flag for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Hoffa, who won the U.S. Olympic Trials with the second-longest throw in the world (72 feet, 6 inches) this year, will join discus thrower Aretha Thurmond as the captain for the U.S. men’s and women’s teams. Hoffa won a silver medal at the 2008 World Indoor Championships and was also a 2004 Olympian.

Competing for the Bulldogs from 1998 to 2001, Hoffa was a five-time All-American and captured the 2001 Southeastern Conference title in his featured event. Hoffa is scheduled to compete in the qualifying round of the men’s shot put on Friday, August 15.

Spencer received the honor of carrying her nation’s flag after qualifying for St. Lucia’s team in the high jump. The opening ceremonies will air tonight on NBC starting at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Spencer was a four-time All-American for the Lady Bulldogs and recorded three SEC individual championships during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Spencer will be competing in the opening round of the women’s high jump on Thursday, August 21.

Ferguson-McKenzie, who has already tallied a gold, a silver and a bronze medal during the last three Olympic Games, carried the flag for the Bahamas as she prepared to compete in her fourth straight Olympics.

Ferguson-McKenzie was a four-time NCAA champion and a 20-time All-American in sprints while at Georgia from 1995 to 1999. She will race in the 100-meter dash as well as the 200 in this year’s Games.

Laban is making his second appearance in the Olympics after also competing in the 2004 Games.

For a complete schedule of the Olympic Games, please visit:

Below is a list of Georgia’s former/current student-athletes and coaches who will be competing at the Olympics:

Reese Hoffa, men's track and field, United States
UGA: 1998-2001
Highlights: 2004 Olympian, 2008 Olympic Trials champion
Olympic event: Shot put

Hyleas Fountain, women's track and field, United States
UGA: 2003-04
Highlights: Four-time NCAA champion, two-time USA Outdoor champion, 2008
Olympic Trials champion
Olympic event: Heptathlon

Andras Haklits, men's track and field, Croatia
UGA: 2000-02
Highlights: Three-time NCAA champion, two-time school record holder (weight,
hammer), 2004 Olympian
Olympic event: Hammer throw

Levern Spencer, women's track and field, St. Lucia
UGA: 2006-08
Highlights: Four-time All-American; Two-time school record holder (indoor/outdoor high jump)
Olympic event: High jump

Patricia Sylvester, women's track and field, Grenada
UGA: 2005-07
Highlights: 2007 NCAA indoor champion (high jump), school record holder
(indoor triple jump)
Olympic event: Long jump

Jenny Dahlgren, women's track and field, Argentina
UGA: 2004-07
Highlights: Three-time NCAA champion, collegiate record holder (hammer),
2004 Olympian
Olympic event: Hammer throw

Sultana Frizell, women's track and field, Canada
UGA: 2004-05
Highlights: 2005 SEC champion (hammer)
Olympic event: Hammer throw

Thorey Elisdottir, women's track and field, Iceland
UGA: 2001
Highlights: 2001 NCAA indoor champion (pole vault), 2000 and 2004 Olympian
Olympic event: Pole vault

Debbie Ferguson, women's track and field, Bahamas
UGA: 1995-99
Highlights: Four-time NCAA champion, silver medal at 1996 Games, gold medal
at 2000 Games and bronze medal at 2004 Games
Olympic events: 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash

Jack Bauerle, women's swimming, United States
UGA: Student-athlete, 1971-74; women's coach, 1980-present; men's coach,
Highlights: Four NCAA titles with the women, 5-time NCAA and 13-time SEC
Coach of the Year
Olympics: Women's head coach

Dan Laak, diving, United States
UGA: Diving coach, 1987-present
Highlights: 2006 and 2008 National Diving Coach of the Year
Olympics: Assistant diving coach

Kara Lynn Joyce, women's swimming, United States
UGA: 2004-07
Highlights: 18-time NCAA champion, two silver medals at 2004 Olympics
Olympic event: 400 freestyle relay

Allison Schmitt, women's swimming, United States
UGA: Incoming freshman
Highlights: Ranked third in the world this year in the 200 freestyle
Olympic events: 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle relay

Gil Stovall, men's swimming, United States
UGA: 2005-08
Highlights: 2008 NCAA champion in the 200 butterfly
Olympic event: 200 butterfly

Chris Colwill, men's diving, United States
UGA: 2004-06, 2007
Highlights: Three-time NCAA champion, 2006 and 2008 NCAA Diver of the Year
Olympic events: 3-meter springboard and 3-meter synchro

Neil Versfeld, men's swimming, South Africa
UGA: Rising senior
Highlights: Placed fourth at the 2007 NCAAs in the 200 breaststroke
Olympic event: 200 breaststroke

Troyden Prinsloo, men's swimming, South Africa
UGA: Rising sophomore
Highlights: 2008 NCAA runner-up in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle
Olympic event: 1,500 freestyle

Wendy Trott, women's swimming, South Africa
UGA: Incoming freshman
Highlights: Ranked ninth in the world this year in the 800 breaststroke
Olympic events: 400m and 800m Freestyle

Sarah Poewe, women's swimming, Germany
UGA: 2003-06
Highlights: bronze medal at 2004 Olympics
Olympic events: 100 and 200 breaststroke

Sebastien Rouault, men's swimming, France
UGA: 2005-08
Highlights: Three-time NCAA champion
Olympic events: 400 and 1,500 freestyle

Josh Laban, men's swimming, U.S. Virgin Islands
UGA: 2003-05
Highlights: Competed in 2004 Games
Olympic events: 50 freestyle

Sheila Taormina, modern pentathlon, United States
UGA: 1988-91 (swimming)
Highlights: Gold medal at 1996 Games in swimming, competed in 2000 and 2004
Games in triathlon
Olympic events: Modern pentathlon consists of pistol shooting, epee fencing,
swimming, horseback riding and cross-country running.



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