Nebraska Well Represented at Beijing Olympics
A strong contingent of current and former Nebraska student-athletes will take part in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, over the next two weeks, representing five different countries. Sports with a Nebraska connection include baseball, road cycling, women’s soccer, softball, swimming, track and field, women’s gymnastics and wrestling.
Three former Huskers will be in action on Wednesday, which marks the first official day of Olympic competition. NU greats Karina LeBlanc, Brittany Timko and Amy Walsh will compete on the soccer field as Team Canada opens pool play against Argentina. The group helped Canada qualify for its first-ever Olympic appearance. The trio is part of a total of seven Canadians with Nebraska ties who will represent their home country at the games.
On the diamond, the Husker softball and baseball programs are well represented with a total of five Olympians. On the men’s side, left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing will make his Olympic debut for Team USA, while outfielder Adam Stern is competing in his second straight Olympic Games for Team Canada.
The Canadian softball team also has a distinctly Nebraska flare. The squad is coached by former Husker pitcher and current Associate Head Coach Lori Sippel, who will be leading a team in the Olympics for the first time after pitching in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and adding commentary as an announcer for the 2000 and 2004 games. Sippel will have the chance to tutor both a former and current Husker in Beijing, as former Husker Sheena Lawrick is making her second Olympic appearance while right-handed pitcher Robin Mackin will be making her Olympic debut. Mackin will join Nebraska this fall as a junior after spending two seasons at Fresno State, earning All-America honors as a sophomore in 2007.
Head Coach Gary Pepin’s track and field program once again boasts the biggest Olympic connection in 2008, as four former Huskers and one current student-athlete will compete at the games. Dusty Jonas, fresh off a terrific senior season in 2008, will compete in the high jump for Team USA. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep returns to the Olympics for a second time and will compete for the Canadians in the 100-meter hurdles. Latvians Ineta Radevica (long jump) and Dmitrijs Milkevics (800 meters) will both represent their home country again in 2008, after also qualifying for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Rounding out the group is Pieter Smith, who will compete as a member of the South African 4x400-meter relay squad. Smith will be a freshman for the Husker track and field program in 2008-09.
Amber (Parkinson) Neben, a former track athlete, has also qualified for the Olympics as a cyclist for Team USA. Neben, who only competed for one season as a Husker before suffering a career-ending injury, has successfully transitioned into the world of road cycling and will compete in her first Olympics 14 years after arriving in Lincoln as a promising freshman distance runner.
On the wrestling mat, former Husker Brad Vering makes his second straight Olympic appearance. Vering will aim for a medal in the 185-pound weight class in the Greco-Roman competition.
The final former student-athlete to compete at the 2008 Olympics is also the lone returning medalist with a Nebraska connection. Adam Pine is making his third straight Olympic appearance and at 32, is the oldest member of the Australian swimming squad. He will compete in the 100-meter butterfly in Beijing.
Peggy Liddick, a former Husker track and field and gymnastics athlete, will also be making her third straight Olympic appearance. As head coach of the Australian women’s gymnastics team, Liddick believes her team is poised to make a run at the medal stand in Beijing.
Serving in an administrative role at the Olympics will be former Husker wrestling national champion Jim Scherr, who is the Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
2008 Nebraska Olympians
Athlete Sport (event) Country
Brian Duensing Baseball United States
Adam Stern Baseball Canada
Amber (Parkinson) Neben Cycling (road) United States
Karina LeBlanc Women’s Soccer Canada
Brittany Timko Women’s Soccer Canada
Amy Walsh Women’s Soccer Canada
Sheena Lawrick Softball Canada
Lori Sippel Softball (Coach) Canada
Robin Mackin* Softball Canada
Adam Pine Swimming (100m butterfly) Australia
Dusty Jonas Track & Field (High Jump) United States
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep Track & Field (100m hurdles) Canada
Ineta Radevica Track & Field (Long Jump) Latvia
Dmitrijs Milkevics Track & Field (800m) Latvia
Pieter Smith* Track & Field (4x400m relay) South Africa
Peggy Liddick Women’s Gymnastics (Coach) Australia
Brad Vering Wrestling (Greco-Roman) United States
*current Nebraska student-athlete