Boise State freshman Courtney McGregor heads to Rio Olympics
A half-dozen athletes who donned the blue and orange will be looking for gold, silver and bronze at the Rio Olympics.
Each athlete will represent a different country, ranging from one about as large as the Treasure Valley to our kindly neighbors to the north.
Graham DeLaet (golf), George Ivanov (wrestling), Kurt Felix and Jordin Andrade (track and field) are former Broncos set to compete in Brazil, making their first appearances, with the exception of Felix, who competed in the London Olympics four years ago. Gymnastics signees Courtney McGregor and Isabella Amado will represent New Zealand and Panama, respectively.
The six Olympians make up the largest Boise State group at a single Olympic Games, surpassing the trio of Troy Kemp (Bahamas, high jump), Wendell Lawrence (Bahamas, triple jump) and assistant coach Ed Jacoby (USA, track and field) at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
▪ Sport: Golf
▪ Country: Canada
▪ Competition schedule: Thursday, Aug. 11 through Sunday, Aug. 14 (tee times TBA; first is 4:30 a.m. MT Thursday)
In Rio, DeLaet will arrive looking fresh, and he hopes feeling that way, too.
Gone is his famed beard, which gained him plenty of notice as he continued to make a name for his play on the PGA Tour. The former Bronco (2001-06) and Saskatchewan native showed up, fittingly, to the Barbasol Championship freshly-shorn, and finished tied for eighth.
“I have 8-month-old twins ... they were always pulling on it,” DeLaet said last week to the gathered media before the RBC Canadian Open. “I feel like a part of me is kind of missing, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”
DeLaet is aiming to put some recent anxiety issues behind him. He took more than a month off while dealing with chipping and pitching “yips,” tweeting that “it’s not fun.” After playing well in Alabama at the Barbasol Championship, his short game struggles appeared again last week, shooting a 5-over 77 in the first round and a 72 in the second, missing the cut.
Following that round, he told Yahoo! Canada heading to the Olympics “does soften the blow a bit” and said he’s steadily improving despite the rough showing.
“It’s feeling better all the time,” DeLaet said. “I’ve still got a little bit of things going on in there, but in practice now, at least I’m hitting all the shots that I was and that I know that I’m capable of.”
▪ Sport: Gymnastics
▪ Country: New Zealand
▪ Competition schedule: Sunday, Aug. 7 (2:30 p.m. MT, qualification); Thursday, Aug. 11 (1 p.m., all-around final); Sunday, Aug. 14 (11 a.m., vault and uneven bars finals); Monday, Aug. 15 (11 a.m., balance beam finals); Tuesday, Aug. 16 (11 a.m., floor finals)
Excelling in a sport she admits “isn’t the biggest in New Zealand,” McGregor always envisioned a big goal.
“I think when I was younger, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll go to the Olympics,’ but I didn’t really know all the work that would go into it,” McGregor said.
Her dream became a reality in April as a result of that work. Competing in a Rio test event, she qualified with 52.466 points in the all-around. McGregor signed with Boise State in November and has trained in Boise in preparation for the Olympics.
“It’s been very intense, especially since I got here,” McGregor said earlier this month. “I’ve had two classes as well, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., then gym 12:30 to 4:30, class 6 to 9, then homework. It was a bit hard the first couple weeks, then I got used to it.”
McGregor is the second female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics from New Zealand in the last 44 years, and the first since 2000.
“It’s definitely amazing to think about,” McGregor said. “... I’ve still got my job to do, hopefully improve from the test event.”
▪ Sport: Gymnastics
▪ Country: Panama
▪ Competition schedule: Sunday, Aug. 7 (6:45 a.m. MT, qualification); Thursday, Aug. 11, 1 p.m. (all-around final); Sunday, Aug. 14, 11 a.m. (vault, uneven bars finals); Monday, Aug. 15, 11 a.m. (balance beam finals); Tuesday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m. (floor finals)
Amado, who will join McGregor as a freshman at Boise State after the Olympics, is set to compete in the women’s all-around, giving the Broncos two of the 38 individual qualifiers for Rio.
She earned her bid as the Olympic Tripartite Commission nominee (given to representatives of nations with small amounts of athletes) after she posted an all-around score of 48.133 at last year’s world championships.
Amado moved to Virginia while in high school and competed for the same club as graduating Boise State senior Krystine Jacobsen, who finished the season No. 1 in the nation in uneven bars.
▪ Sport: Wrestling
▪ Country: Bulgaria
▪ Competition schedule: Friday, Aug. 19 (7 a.m. MT, 163-pound eliminations and 1 p.m., repechage and medal bouts)
A transfer from Nebraska-Omaha, Ivanov made the NCAA Tournament in both seasons at Boise State, winning the 157-pound title his senior year at the Pac-12 Championships in 2013.
Ivanov was born and raised in Bulgaria, moving to the United States 10 years ago. He earned his Rio berth in April by taking silver in the 163-pound freestyle class at the World Olympic Qualifier in Mongolia.
Ivanov is the second former Boise State wrestler to reach the Olympics, joining Charles Burton, who represented the United States in Sydney in 2000 (finishing fifth, the highest ever performance by a Boise State athlete at the Olympics).
Married to a former Bronco cheerleader, Ivanov spent the months leading up to Rio training with his father in Wendell.
▪ Sport: Decathlon
▪ Country: Grenada
▪ Competition schedule: Wednesday, Aug. 17 (6:30 a.m. MT) and Thursday, Aug. 18 (11 a.m.)
Felix, who is competing in his second consecutive Olympics, took silver at the 2015 Pan-Am Games in Toronto and eighth in the world championships last summer in China.
He did not finish the 2012 Olympics in London, but took third in the long jump and fifth in the high jump before withdrawing. His brother, Lindon Victor, has also qualified for Rio and could be a medal contender.
Felix became Boise State’s fourth men’s track and field national champion in 2012 when he won the outdoor championship with a Mountain West-record 8,062 points.
▪ Sport: 400 hurdles
▪ Country: Cape Verde
▪ Competition schedule: Monday, Aug. 15 (6:30 a.m. MT, first round); Tuesday, Aug. 16 (5:15 p.m., semifinals); Thursday, Aug. 18 (4:20 p.m., final)
Andrade qualified for the Olympics after he finished second at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 49.24 seconds.
A two-time Mountain West 400 hurdles champion, Andrade will represent the tiny island nation (population 525,000), which is located 350 miles west of Africa.
Andrade, who grew up near Seattle, had the option of fighting for a spot with the United States team, but would’ve had to go through the Olympic Trials, or represent Cape Verde, where his father was born.
Idaho connections to Rio
▪ Isabella Amado, Boise State, gymnast, Panama
▪ Jordin Andrade, Boise State, 400 hurdles, Cape Verde
▪ Kristin Armstrong, Boise/University of Idaho, cycling (road race and time trial), United States
▪ Will Brown, Twin Falls, shooting (10-meter air pistol and 50-meter free pistol), United States
▪ Graham DeLaet, Boise State, golf, Canada
▪ Kurt Felix, Boise State, decathlon, Grenada
▪ George Ivanov, Boise State, freestyle wrestling (163 pounds), Bulgaria
▪ Courtney McGregor, Boise State, gymnast, New Zealand
▪ Angela Whyte, University of Idaho, 110 hurdles, Canada
▪ Bruce Burnett, former Idaho State wrestler, Meridian High coach, current resident of Dover, Idaho, U.S. men’s freestyle wrestling coach
▪ Rosie Main, Boise, team chiropractor for USA Wrestling
NBC’s tape-delayed coverage in the Boise television market begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday.