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31 Olympic & Paralympic athletes from Wisconsin to watch

31 Olympic & Paralympic athletes from Wisconsin to watch

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Erin Yarnall

July 9, 2024

Wisconsin’s not just home to breweries and dairy farms — the state has produced some of the most impressive current and past Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Here are 31 that are competing in the 2024 Paris games. 

It’s not easy to become an Olympic or a Paralympic athlete — it takes years of dedication, practice, and training to hone skills and sharpen athletic abilities. Even then, it can be tough for impressive athletes to qualify to represent their countries at the Olympic and Paralympic games. But some athletes with Wisconsin ties have the honor of doing that this year when the 2024 Summer Olympics and 2024 Summer Paralympics in Paris, France kick off on July 26.

With all four seasons, impressive indoor facilities, and plenty of lakes to go swim, row, or sail in, Wisconsin is clearly a great place to play sports. From college students to homegrown athletes, the state has fostered plenty of Olympic and Paralympic talent, including 31 members who are competing for Team USA, and for several other nations, in 2024 alone. 

From athletes who were born and raised in Wisconsin, to those who attended college in the state, or those who now call it home, here are the members of Team USA that have links to the Badger State, and some of its most notable Olympians and Paralympians from previous years.

Wisconsin athletes competing in 2024

Tyrese Haliburton (basketball)

One of the stars of the Indiana Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton, was born and raised in Oshkosh. The NBA star attended Oshkosh North High School, where he was named to the All-Fox Valley Association second team and defensive team. Haliburton played for the United States Men’s National Team at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where the United States lost the third-place game to Canada.

Jake Williams (wheelchair basketball)

Milwaukee native Jake Williams isn’t new to the Paralympic games. The wheelchair basketball player has previously represented the United States in the 2016 games, as well as the 2020 Paralympics, returning home with a gold medal both times. Williams has also won gold at the 2022 World Championship in wheelchair basketball, which took place in Dubai, and three different Parapan American Games, in 2015, 2019, and 2023.

TOKYO, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 05: John Boie #33 of team United States celebrate after defeating Team Japan during the men's Wheelchair Basketball gold medal game on day 12 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Ariake Arena on September 05, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Adam Pretty/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

John Boie (wheelchair basketball)

John Boie, of Janesville, Wisc., is going for his second Paralympic gold medal this year, after securing gold during the 2020 Paralympic Games, as a member of the United States men’s wheelchair basketball team. The Paralympic athlete attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and now works as an advisor at the university.

AJ Fitzpatrick (wheelchair basketball)

AJ Fitzpatrick made his debut for the United States national men’s wheelchair basketball team last year, at the ParaPan American Games in Santiago, Chile. The 19-year-old Iowa native is playing for the team again at the 2024 Summer Paralympics. Fitzpatrick currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and plays for the university’s wheelchair basketball team.

Nate Hinze (wheelchair basketball)

This isn’t the first Paralympics for wheelchair basketball player Nate Hinze. The Paralympian has already competed in the 2012, 2016, and 2020 Paralympic Games, winning a bronze in 2012, and gold medals in 2016 and 2020. Hinze, a resident of Cedar Grove, Wisc., plays for the Bucks in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JUNE 18: Mendel Op Den Orth of The Netherlands controls the ball shoots as Talen Jourdan of USA attempts to block during the IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships 2022 Men's Semi Final match between USA and The Netherlands on June 18, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Francois Nel/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Talen Jourdan (wheelchair basketball)

After being introduced to the sport of wheelchair basketball while attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Talen Jourdan took to it quickly. The 24-year-old, who is from Deerfield, Wisc., played on the university’s team and is now representing the United States as a member of Team USA during the 2024 Paralympic Games. He previously competed on Team USA at the ParaPan American Games in 2023.

Jeromie Meyer II (wheelchair basketball)

Originally from Iowa, Jeromie Meyer II played wheelchair basketball for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and has been a member of Team USA for the past year. The 2024 Summer Paralympics will be Meyer’s first time competing at the Paralympic Games, but he represented the United States in 2023 at the ParaPan American Games.

Becca Murray (wheelchair basketball)

Wheelchair basketball player Becca Murray first joined Team USA for the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, where the 18-year-old player helped her team bring home gold. Murray brought another gold medal home after the 2016 Paralympic Games and is back on the team for 2024. Murray was born in Milwaukee, graduated from Germantown High School the same year that she won her first Paralympic gold medal, and attended University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wheelchair basketball camps throughout her childhood.

Emily Oberst (wheelchair basketball)

2024 marks the first time that Emily Oberst, a wheelchair basketball player, will compete for Team USA in the Paralympic Games, but it’s not her first time donning a Team USA jersey. The wheelchair basketball player also played for the country at the 2023 ParaPan American Games. Oberst, a Wisconsin native, played for the Varsity Junior Bucks, a wheelchair basketball team, before attending college at the University of Alabama, and then the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (fencing)

Margherita Guzzi Vincenti was born in Italy and went to school at Penn State University, in State College, Penn., but the fencer calls Wisconsin home. She trains at the Ataba Fencing Club in Hartland, Wisc., under coach Abbas Fadel. The Olympics-bound fencer is competing for Team USA after becoming a U.S. citizen of the United States in 2019.

Maria Laborde (judo)

Cuban-born Maria Laborde became a U.S. citizen in 2022, and less than a year later she was ranked as the second-highest judo athlete in the country. Laborde, who lives in Kenosha, has been competing for Team USA since 2022 and won a medal at the Masters Worlds in 2023. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 07: Emily Sisson looks on during United States Olympic Women's Marathon Team & New York Road Runners Media Availability at the Women’s Rights Pioneer Statue in Central Park on June 07, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Luke Hales/Getty Images)

Luke Hales/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Emily Sisson (marathon)

The 2024 Olympic Games won’t be Emily Sisson’s first time at the Olympics, but it will be the first time that the athlete competes in the marathon at the Games. Sisson previously competed in the 2020 Summer Olympics, earning a 10th-place finish in the 10,000-meter run. Since those Games, Sisson set a North American record at the 2022 Chicago Marathon, running the race in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 29 seconds. Sisson was born in Milwaukee, but grew up in Nebraska and Missouri before returning to the state to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Grace Joyce (rowing)

Grace Joyce first started rowing in high school, and now, the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate has made it to the United States Olympic rowing team. Before qualifying for the Olympics, Joyce competed in the 2023 Pan American Games, where the rower won gold in the quadruple sculls.

Lauren O’Connor (rowing)

Team USA rower Lauren O’Connor first took up the sport while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and quickly progressed, being named an Academic All Big-Ten rower while at the school. Since graduating in 2020, the Belleville, Wisc., native has competed in the 2023 World Rowing Championships, finishing 11th in quadruple sculls.

Sophia Vitas (rowing)

Born and raised in Franklin, Wisc., Sophia Vitas graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016, where she competed on the university’s team. Vitas has competed in several national and international tournaments since graduating, including the 2024 World Rowing Cup II, where she won the double sculls.

Madeleine Wanamaker (rowing)

Madeleine Wanamaker, of Neenah, Wisc., is back to compete in her second Olympic Games. The rower finished in seventh place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and recently finished in third place in the eight at the 2024 World Rowing Cup II. Wanamaker attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating in 2017.

Nick Rusher (rowing)

This is the first Olympic Games for rower Nick Rusher, of West Bend, Wisc., but it’s not the first in the Yale graduate’s family. Rusher is a legacy rower — his parents met competing on the national team and rowed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games. Rusher finished in fourth place in the 2022 World Championships.

Alev Kelter (rugby)

Alev Kelter is playing for Team USA at the Olympic Games for the third time, after previously competing on the women’s national rugby team in the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, coming in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Rugby isn’t Kelter’s only sport, she also played ice hockey and soccer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Stephanie Roble (sailing)

Olympic sailing team member Stephanie Roble grew up near the water in Lake Beulah, Wisconsin. After graduating from Old Dominion University, Roble competed in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships for sailing, winning a bronze medal each time. She won a silver medal in sailing at the 2019 Pan American Games and competed in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Rose Lavelle (soccer)

Soccer player Rose Lavelle is no stranger to wearing a Team USA uniform. The former University of Wisconsin-Madison midfielder has represented the country since 2015, when she was called up to train with the United States women’s national soccer team. Lavelle played on the team during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which the United States won, and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they were knocked out during the Round of 16. Lavelle has also played on the team during the 2020 Summer Olympics, earning a bronze medal. The soccer player was recently recognized for playing 100 matches for the United States women’s national soccer team, during a June 4 game against South Korea.

Phoebe Bacon (swimming)

Phoebe Bacon’s been swimming for the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2019 and qualified for her second Olympic Games this year. Bacon, who grew up in Maryland, began swimming at the age of three and qualified for the 2016 Olympics Trials at the age of 14. She competed in her first Olympic Games in 2020, placing fifth in the 200-meter backstroke.

Taiko Torepe-Ormsby (swimming)

After qualifying earlier this year, Taiko Torepe-Orsmby, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will make his way to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The New Zealand resident, who will be competing for his home country in the 2024 Summer Olympics, currently competes on the university’s swim team.

Amie Barrow (swimming)

Amie Barrow, a swimmer from Shorewood, Wisc., is about to make Olympic history. The college student at Brown University is about to become the first female swimmer to ever compete for The Gambia in the Summer Olympics. Barrow was born to Gambian and Finnish parents and will be representing The Gambia in the upcoming Olympics. Barrow previously represented The Gambia at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, last year.

Kenny Bednarek (track and field)

Born in Tulsa, Okla., Kenny Bednarek moved to Rice Lake, Wisc. at a young age, and attended Rice Lake High School, where he competed in track and field and football. Now, the track and field athlete is attending his second Olympic Games, after competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. During the 2020 Summer Olympics, Bednarek received a silver medal in the 200-meter event.

Zach Ziemek (track and field)

Track and field athlete Zach Ziemek has competed in the decathlon in two prior Olympic Games — 2016 and 2020, where he placed seventh and sixth, respectively. This year, Ziemek has made the team again, and the former University of Wisconsin-Madison runner will compete in the decathlon for the third time. Ziemek lives in Sun Prairie, Wisc., and continues to train at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with his coach, Nate Davis, the assistant coach for the university’s track and field team.

EUGENE, OREGON - JULY 21: Mohammed Ahmed of Team Canada reacts after competing in the Men's 5000m heats on day seven of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 21, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Moh Ahmed (track and field)

This isn’t the first Olympics for track and field athlete Moh Ahmed. The former University of Wisconsin-Madison student competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where he received a silver medal in the 5,000 meter, and now the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. While Ahmed attended university in Wisconsin, he represents Canada in international competitions. Ahmed was born in Somalia but moved to St. Catherines, Ontario with his family at the age of 11, and began running after moving to Canada.

Lauren Carlini (volleyball)

Serving as an alternate for Team USA during the 2020 Summer Olympics, Lauren Carlini wasn’t on the team that won its first gold medal ever, but she will be on the squad this year as it defends its previous first-place win. Carlini, a setter for the Italian volleyball club Casalmaggiore, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and played for the school’s volleyball team.

Dana Rettke (volleyball)

Dana Rettke was a member of Team USA when they qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but wasn’t on the squad for the games themselves. This year, though, the former University of Wisconsin-Madison volleyball player will be on the squad as it tries to defend its 2020 gold medal win. Rettke, originally from Riverside, Ill., played volleyball for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and now plays professionally for the Italian team Vero Volley Monza.

Mary Theisen-Lappen (weightlifting)

Weightlifting wasn’t always the sport for Eau Claire native Mary Theisen-Lappen. During her college years, Theisen-Lappen competed in track and field and earned All-America honors in shot put. She put her passion for track and field to work, coaching at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, but now the former shot put star’s focus is on weightlifting. Theisen-Lappen secured three gold medals in weightlifting at the Pan American Games in 2023, and the Pan American Championships in 2021 and 2023. She also received a silver medal at the World Championships in Saudi Arabia last year.

Payton Jacobson (wrestling)

Payton Jacobson currently wrestles at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., but the Team USA member calls Elkhorn, Wisc. home. The Olympic wrestler attended Elkhorn Area High School, where he came in sixth place at the 2019 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Individual State Championships. In 2023, Jacobson came in third place at the U.S. Open Wrestling Championship, before punching his ticket to Paris in 2024, winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Zain Retherford (wrestling)

Freestyle wrestler Zain Retherford earned a place on Team USA after winning every one of his matches at the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials. He’s previously won gold and silver medals at the World Wrestling Championships. Retherford was born in Kenosha but moved to Benton, Penn. as a child. The wrestler attended Penn State University, where he won gold medals in several Big Ten Championships and NCAA Division I Championships.

Notable former Olympians from Wisconsin 

Scott Servais (baseball)

Scott Servais may be best known now as the manager of the Seattle Mariners, but before his managerial career began, Servais played on the gold medal-winning team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Servais, a Coon Valley, Wisc. native, also played on the United States men’s national baseball team as it won silver medals during the 1987 Pan American Games, 1987 Intercontinental Cup, and 1988 Baseball World Cup.

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 06: Forward Amanda Kessel #28 of Team United States walks to the ice prior to the start of the game against Team Switzerland during the Women's Preliminary Round Group A match at Wukesong Sports Center on February 06, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Elsa/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Amanda Kessel (ice hockey)

Madison native Amanda Kessel has been to three Olympic Games and has come home with three medals as a member of the United States women’s national ice hockey team. The ice hockey player, who used to play on the Madison Capitols bantam boys team, won silver medals at the 2014 and 2022 Winter Olympics and came away with a gold medal during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Barry Richter (ice hockey)

Altogether, Barry Richter played 56 games with the United States men’s national ice hockey team, including a run during the 1994 Winter Olympics, where the United States lost a quarterfinal game to Finland. The Madison, Wisc. native played hockey for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as several professional teams including the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, and Montreal Canadiens. 

Gary Suter (ice hockey)

Gary Suter played more than 1,000 games over a 17-year career in the National Hockey League, playing for teams including the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, and San Jose Shakes. The hockey player, who is originally from Madison, Wisc., also played for the United States men’s national ice hockey team, including during the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the United States won a silver medal. Suter was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.

Eric Heiden (speed skating)

The 1980 Winter Olympics were a big event for speed skater Eric Heiden, of Madison, Wisc. The Olympian walked away from the games with five individual gold medals, four Olympic records, and one world record. Heiden wasn’t the only member of his family competing during the 1980 Winter Olympics. His sister, Beth Heiden, left the Lake Placid games with a bronze medal in speed skating. 

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.31 Olympic & Paralympic athletes from Wisconsin to watch31 Olympic & Paralympic athletes from Wisconsin to watch

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