Plenty of DuPage County products to cheer for in Rio Olympics
Illinois has produced quite a few Olympic standouts for the 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, underscoring the state as a hot bed of world-class athletes.
Take, for instance, Kelsey Robinson out of Bartlett, Illinois. The outside hitter on the Team USA volleyball squad went to high school at St. Francis and moved on to the University of Nebraska, where she was named an American Volleyball Coaches Association first-team All-American following her senior season in 2013.
She later made her debut with Team USA in 2014, was selected to the FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) Championship roster and was part of the national team that won the gold at the 2014 World Championships. She followed that up by being named Best Outside Spiker 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix and was named Best Receiver in the 2016 Olympic Trials, where Team USA finished first. She brings her powerful spikes now to Brazil, where Team USA should be a favorite to take home the gold again.
Decathlete Zach Ziemek is another Illinois product making a mark in these games. A product of Lake Park and native of Itasca, Ziemek won state titles in the long jump, triple jump and pole vault while in high school before moving on to the University of Wisconsin.
While with the Badgers, Ziemek set school records in the decathlon and the outdoor pole vault, and also holds the Big 10 conference record in the decathlon and the heptathlon. The four-time collegiate All-American is now ranked eighth in the world in the decathlon and finished third at the U.S. Olympic trials earlier this month.
He's not the favorite — that would be teammate and world record holder Ashton Eaton — but Ziemek is coming off a career-best 8,413 points at the trials and fully expects to compete for a medal in the Rio games. Don't be surprised to see him standing on the podium at the event's end.
Nigeria-born Morolake Akinosun, who went to high school at Waubonsie Valley in Aurora, Illinois, where she set the state record in the 100 meters, will also be competing in track and field in Rio.
After earning All-State and All-Conference recognition all four years in high school, Akinosun went on to sprint for the University of Illinois, where she was a first-team All-American and All-Big 10, before transferring in 2013 to the University of Texas.
There she earned multiple first and second team All-American honors, and also was a 13-time Big 12 champion in the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4x100 meter relay team. She is one of only two women (the famed Jackie Joyner-Kersee being the other) to score in four events in back-to-back years at the NCAA outdoor meet.
She also holds the school record in the 200 meters, which she ran in 22.52 seconds, and was the high point scorer in the 2016 Big 12 championships. She'll be competing in both the 100 meters and the 4x100 meter relay squad for Team USA at the Rio games.