Olympics hummed with energy, memories for EHE athletes
For three EHE elite athletes, the 2016 Olympics included moments they’ll forever hold fast: Taking selfies with Usain Bolt. Doing the wave with athletes from 206 countries. Looking up from Guanabara Bay to see the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Aina Cid Centelles, Nichelle Prince and Kyle Snyder were among five Olympians welcomed home by fellow Buckeyes and President Michael V. Drake at the Ohio Union Aug. 29. All five athletes and volunteer U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestling coach Lou Rosselli spoke.
Spain’s Cid Centelles achieved her goal of finishing sixth in the finals for Women’s Pair Rowing at the Games. Despite the warnings about polluted waters, she found the scenery breathtaking.
“The views (from the bay) were really, really good,” she said. “You could literally turn your head up and you could see the (statue) looking down at you. It was amazing.”
Prince, a senior, and Team Canada won the bronze in Women’s Soccer. Two days before the games officially began, her team scored an impressive win over No. 5 Australia, then went on to beat No. 2 Germany and No. 3 France to advance to the semifinals. They lost to Germany in a rematch but recovered to earn the bronze.
The soccer matches were in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte, not Rio, with travel time in between. “(The isolation) helped us to stay connected and stay focused on what we came there to do,” she said.
When she made it back to Olympic Village, she and a friend hung out with the Jamaican track team. Usain Bolt made an appearance.
“He walked by me and I couldn’t even talk to him. I just stared and my friend finally asked for a picture. He ended up being very nice.” She tweeted the photo.
Snyder, a junior, had to wait nearly three weeks, until the last day, to wrestle for Team USA. Then he did it in grand style, besting four opponents in one day. The gold-medal match was against Azerbaijan’s Khetag Gazyumov — who had beaten Snyder weeks before in Germany.
“I learned a lot from that match,” he said. He and Coach Rosselli examined YouTube videos and dissected Gazyumov’s moves. Then Snyder defeated the 33-year-old champion to become the youngest American wrestler — at 20 — to receive an Olympic gold medal.
Even coming off a gold medal, the NCAA and Big 10 events still enthuse Snyder.
“I love competing in front of big crowds like that. When I walk out on the mat at the Big Tens and NCAAs, it’s going to be just as important to me and I’ll be just as excited to wrestle some tough guys,” he said.
One of his greatest moments at the games was in the holding area with all the athletes, waiting for the opening ceremonies to begin. Someone started a "wave."
"It was just USA for a while, and then (athletes from) other countries were like, 'Oh, this is how we do it.' That was pretty cool. Everybody from around the world doing the wave," he said.
Read more about Cid Centelles, Prince and Snyder, and about EHE alumni and Olympians Michelle Williams and Nate Ebner.