U-Idaho Grads Go For Gold: A Look at Olympians Present and Past

Friday, July 27 2012

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho alumna Kristin Armstrong will seek her second Olympic medal at the summer games opening tonight in London. The Boise cyclist – who’s making a comeback after the birth of a son and a broken collar bone sustained in a recent fall during qualifying competitions – snared Olympic gold in 2008.

Among the other Vandal Olympians, past and present, are:

• Jessica Draskau-Petersson ’02, 2012 Olympian (marathon) for Denmark. Former world-class triathlete. Vandal track and field and cross-country 2000-01. 

• Former Vandal track and field athletes Trond Knaplund ’86, ‘89 of Norway, Chris Stokes ‘87 from Jamaica and former Vandal strength coach Greg “Trinidad” Sun ’90, ’93, ‘98 variously competed (bobsled teams) in several Winter Olympic games in the ‘90s.

• Dan O'Brien ’03, 1996 Olympic gold medalist (decathlon), three-time world champion.

• Joachim Olsen ’02, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist (shot put) for Denmark. NCAA champion.

• Chris Stokes ’87, former Vandal track and field athlete competed as the brakeman for the Jamaican bobsleigh team in both the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympic games. Chris Stokes has been president of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation since 1995. He wrote Cool Runnings and Beyond – The Story of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team about his team's Olympic competition.

• Angela Whyte ’03, 2004 Olympic finalist (100m Hurdles) and 2008 representative for Canada. Four-time NCAA All-American. 2012 alternate for Canada in 100m hurdles. Whyte lives in Moscow and is currently a volunteer track and field assistant coach for the Vandals.

Vandals with ties to the 2012 Summer Olympics include:

• James Gerson, Vandal alum and president of the swimwear division for The Warnaco Group Inc. Gerson oversees all aspects of the Speedo and Calvin Klein Swimwear businesses based out of the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles. Gerson grew up in Spokane.  

• Bruce Stratton, Vandal alum and president of the USA Swimming board of directors.  Stratton lives in Boise and owns an accounting firm. 

• Craig McGowan, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho.  In 2012, McGowan led a group of researchers comparing the leg stiffness of Paralympic sprinters who had both unilateral and bilateral leg amputations compared to the leg stiffness of non-amputee sprinters.  The study led the South African Olympic Committee to permit amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
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The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.