Former Arizona State student-athletes nabbed two gold medals and one bronze in London.
TEMPE, ARIZ. – Sunday brought a close to the 2012 London Olympics and the Sun Devils made their university and respective countries proud with numerous impressive performances throughout the two weeks of non-stop action.
With 17 current or former student-athletes in competition, Arizona State had the 13th-highest total of Olympians of any Division I school in the country. With three medals earned over the course of the competition, the Sun Devils had the 21st-largest haul of any Division I institution as well.
Thanks to James Harden (men’s basketball/USA) and Amy LePeilbet (women’s soccer/USA), ASU brought home two gold medals for the first time since 2000 and brought the all-time total of gold medals to 25.
A brief recap of all the London action from a Sun Devil viewpoint can be found below:
James Harden became just the second Sun Devil to earn a gold medal in men’s basketball as the USA downed Spain, 107-100, in the final on the closing day in London. Harden appeared in all eight games for the U.S., averaging 5.5 points in just under 10 minutes per game. Harden hit two late free throws in the gold medal match to fend off a late Spanish surge and help the team hold on for the victory.
Another former Pac-10 Player of the Year, Ike Diogu was the top player on the floor for the Nigerian national team making its first ever appearance at the Olympic Games. In five games, Diogu averaged 14.8 ppg and 9.0 rpg while also shooting an impressive 81 percent from the free throw line. Diogu played more minutes than any other player on the Nigerian squad, averaging 32.4 per game.
Eric Boateng appeared in three games for Great Britain, who were making just their second Olympic appearance. Boateng earned 4.0 ppg and 2.6 rpg in his time on the court.
Swimming and Diving:
Current ASU diver Riley McCormick, who grey shirted this season to prepare to compete for his home Canada, had the best performance in the pool for the Sun Devils as he advanced to the finals of the 10m platform competition. McCormick scored a total of 493.35 in the final round, including recording a final dive of 95.40. McCormick will return to ASU for the 2012-13 campaign for his junior season.
In the men’s 3m springboard competition, former Pac-10 Diver of the Year Micky Benedetti narrowly missed advancing to the finals with a 20th-place finish in the qualifying rounds with a score of 433.05. Benedetti was just three points out of qualifying into the finals.
Former ASU swimmer Gal Nevo got things going in the pool with a 10th-place finish in the men’s 400m IM. Nevo was third in his heat in the qualifying rounds in 4:14.77 and was just over a second shy of advancing to the finals in the event for Israel.
The Sun Devils earned their first medal of the 2012 games in the pool as former water polo star Rowie Webster led her Australia national team to a bronze medal finish. Webster finished tied with the fifth-highest tally of goals in the entire tournament after finding the back of the net 12 times in six games. Webster, known more for her defensive prowess, was an offensive juggernaut in the team’s 16-3 rout of Great Britain in the prelim rounds and scored two goals in the team’s 13-11 victory over Hungary in the bronze medal match.
Incoming freshman Rita Keszthelyi was another standout as part of the fourth-place Hungarian squad, finishing in a tie for 12th in the tournament in goals scored with 10. Keszthelyi was the workhorse for Hungary, playing 183 minutes over six games, which was the fourth-highest total of all non-goalkeepers from any team in the entire tournament.
Current ASU sophomore and now two-time Olympian Gao Ao competed for the Chinese national team, scoring one goal in 58 minutes of play and appearing in all six matches.
Track and Field
Ryan Whiting, a six-time NCAA Champion, had the top finished of the five former Sun Devils taking part in the athletics portion of the Olympics. Whiting had the fourth-best throw of the qualifying rounds to advance to the final in the event with a mark of 20.78m but couldn’t match that in the finals on his first three attempts as he finished with a mark of 20.64m and a ninth-place finish.
Amy Hastings was 11th in the women’s 10,000-meter run with a personal best time of 31:10.69. With the finish, Hastings became just the seventh American in Olympic history to post a top-11 finish at the Olympics. In addition, Hastings’ time makes her the fourth-fastest American in the event in history as well.
The men’s 400-meter dash saw an unfortunate set of circumstances crop up for Donald Sanford as the former ASU All-American had his shoes stolen prior to his race. Forced to run in borrowed shoes and with no warm-up, Sanford clocked a time of 45.71 to finish 26th overall and narrowly miss advanced to the semifinals. The time was a season’s best for Sanford and was the Israeli national record in the process.
In the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, Kyle Alcorn was 28th in the prelim round with a time of 8:37.11 and did not advance out of the preliminary round.
Desiree Davila was forced to drop out of the women’s marathon due to injury.
Former Arizona State University women’s soccer player Amy LePeilbet became the first Sun Devil since 2004 to win a gold medal on Thursday as the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Japan, 2-1, to capture its third consecutive Olympic gold medal. LePeilbet, a 2004 graduate of ASU (B.A. in Sociology, Magna Cum Laude), started in five of the team’s six matches at the London Olympics, including Thursday’s gold medal game. LePeilbet had a critical goal line save from her defender position in the 74th minute to preserve the USA victory.
Kelsey Campbell, the lone woman to ever make the ASU wrestling roster, found herself in what’s know in the wrestling circles as a “tough draw” in the women’s 55kg freestyle competition. Campbell was paired up against eventual gold medalist Saori Yoshida in her first round matchup, a 3-0 shut out in Yoshida’s favor, before having to take on former world champion and eventual bronze medalist Yuliya Ratkevich in the consolation bracket where she also fell 3-0 and was eliminated from the competition.
Zeke Jones, a former ASU Olympian as an athlete and having spent the last several Olympics as an assistant coach for the USA team, heading to the London games in his first year as head coach of the U.S. men’s freestyle team. Under his guidance, U.S. wrestlers earned two golds (Jordan Burroughs, 74kg and Jacob Varner, 96kg) and one bronze (Coleman Scott, 60kg) over the course of the competition.
Alison Williamson competed in her sixth consecutive Olympic Games in her home country this year in the archery competition. The former ASU All-American and national champion finished tied for 33rd overall in the individual recurve competition while she finished tied for ninth with Great Britain in the team competition.