Rio 2016: Chicago Olympians to Watch

Conor Dwyer, Morolake Akinosun and Olivia Smoliga (Photos courtesy of Team USA.)

Chicago may have lost out on the bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but that doesn’t mean the Windy City won’t be well represented at these Games. Check out the incredible athletes who will be representing both Team USA and their Sweet Home Chicago in Rio this summer.

Monica Rokhman

Age: 19

Hometown: Northbrook, Illinois

Sport: Rhythmic Gymnastics (Group)

About: Rokhman graduated from Glenbrook North High School in 2015 and trains at the North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center. She has participated in many national and international competitions including the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.

Laura Zeng

Age: 17

Hometown: Libertyville, Illinois

Sport: Rhythmic Gymnastics

About: Zeng attends Libertyville High School and trains with teammate Rokhman at the North Shore Rhythmic Gymnastics Center. She holds both junior and senior national titles in various rhythmic gymnastic events.

Kevin Cordes

Age: 23

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois

Sport: Swimming

About: Cordes graduated from Neuqua Valley High School in 2011 and from the University of Arizona, where he set American records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races, in 2015. He is also a two-time World Champion.

Conor Dwyer

Age: 27

Hometown: Winnetka, Illinois

Sport: Swimming

About: Dwyer graduated from Loyola Academy in 2006 and went on to swim at the University of Iowa for two years before transferring to the University of Florida, where he became both SEC and National Swimmer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. He competed in the 2012 Olympics and won his first gold medal in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay alongside teammates Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens and Michael Phelps.

Olivia Smoliga

Age: 21

Hometown: Glenview, Illinois

Sport: Swimming

About: Smoliga graduated from Glenbrook South High School in 2012 and went on to swim at the University of Georgia where she won an NCAA championship in 2014 for the 50-yard freestyle. She recently earned a spot on her first U.S. Olympic swim team after beating swimming greats Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin in the 100-meter backstroke at the Olympic Trials.

Ben Kanute

Age: 23

Hometown: Geneva, Illinois

Sport: Triathlon

About: Kanute attended Marion Academy in Aurora, Illinois, where he received all-state honors in both swimming and cross-country. He then went on to race for the club triathlon team at the University of Arizona, where he won the Collegiate National Championship his sophomore year, while also competing for the United States in various cups and races around the world.

Tom Jaeschke

Age: 22

Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois

Sport: Volleyball

About: Jaeschke went to Wheaton Warrenville South High School and was the Chicago Sun-Times player of the year, leading his team to an undefeated season (42-0) and national championship. He continued his volleyball career at Loyola University in Chicago, where he helped the Ramblers take home the 2014 and 2015 Division 1 National Championships. After the 2015 season, Jaescheke left Loyola to join one of the top teams in Poland’s professional league, Asseco Resovia.

Haley Augello

Age: 21

Hometown: Lockport, Illinois

Sport: Wrestling

About: Augello attended Lockport High School and was the ASICS Girls High School Wrestler of the Year in 2012 and 2013. She went on to wrestle at King University in New York, where she won the WCWA National Championship in 2014 and 2015.   

Daniel Dennis

Age: 30

Hometown: Ingleside, Illinois

Sport: Wrestling

About: Dennis went to Grant High School in Fox Lake, where he was a two-time state runner-up in wrestling, and went on to wrestle at the University of Iowa, where he was a two-time All-American. After taking a few years off, Dennis is back and competing in his first Olympic Games.

Morolake Akinosun

Age: 22

Hometown: Aurora, Illinois

Sport: Track and Field

About: Akinosun graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in 2012 and ran track at the University of Illinois before transferring to the University of Texas, where she won the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championship in four events and placed second at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 100-meter race.

Zach Ziemek

Age: 23

Hometown: Itasca, Illinois

Sport: Track and Field

About: Ziemek graduated from Lake Park High School and went on to compete for the Men’s Track and Field team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kelsey Robinson

Age: 24

Hometown: Elmhurst, Illinois

Sport: Volleyball

About: Robinson went to St. Francis High School in Wheaton and played collegiately at the University of Tennessee before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was a part of the gold-medal winning U.S. national team that competed in the 2014 World Championships and played for the Italian club Imoco Volley Conegliano this past season.

Evan Jager

Age: 27

Hometown: Algonquin, Illinois

Sport: Track and Field

About: Jager graduated from Harry D. Jacobs High School in Algonquin in 2007 and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to run track. He left Wisconsin a year early to sign with Nike and train full-time in Portland, Oregon where he has lived ever since. Jager competes in the Steeplechase event.

Annie Haeger

Age: 26

Hometown: Lake Forest, Illinois

Sport: Sailing

About: Sailing since the age of five, Haeger went to Lake Forest High School where she turned down a college soccer scholarship to compete on the Boston College sailing team earning All-American honors all four years and winning the Quantam Female College Sailor of the Year award in 2011. She competes in the 470 event (two-person dinghy) with her partner Briana Porvancha.

Olympians Who Play on Chicago Teams

Although these Olympians may not have grown up eating Portillo’s on their cheat days, they now call Chicago home, at least during their sports’ seasons, and we will gladly adopt them all!

Jimmy Butler

Age: 26

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Sport: Basketball

Team: Chicago Bulls

About: Hailing from Houston Texas, Butler played collegiately just 90 miles north of the city at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He was a first-round draft pick by the Bulls in 2011 and is a two-time NBA All-Star.

Elena Delle Donne

Age: 26

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware

Sport: Basketball

Team: Chicago Sky

About: 6’5” Delle Donne was drafted second overall by the Sky in 2013 and went on to become the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year that year. In 2015, she was named MVP of the WNBA.

Julie Johnston

Age: 24

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Sport: Soccer

Team: Chicago Red Stars

About: After spending most of her life on the west coast, Johnston came to Chicago after being drafted third overall into the NWSL by the Chicago Red Stars in 2014 and winning Rookie of the Year honors.

Alyssa Naeher

Age: 28

Hometown: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Sport: Soccer

Team: Chicago Red Stars

About: Originally from Bridgeport, Connecticut, Naeher went to Penn State University and graduated in 2009. Before joining the Red Stars in 2015, she played for four different teams and won the NWSL’s Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2014.

Christen Press

Age: 27

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Sport: Soccer

Team: Chicago Red Stars

About: Born in Los Angeles, Press traveled up to Palo Alto to play soccer at Stanford, where she set the all-time scoring record and won the Pac-10’s 2010 Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award. She played professionally in Washington, Florida and Boston and internationally in Sweden before joining the Red Stars in 2014.


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