Michigan in the Olympics


1996 - Atlanta

Tom Dolan
World record holder Tom Dolan won the United State's first gold medal of the Atlanta Olympics by defeating 1992 silver medalist Eric Namesnik in the 400 individual medley. In a race the two fierce rivals had been pointing towards during three years of training at Canham Natatorium, Dolan overtook Namesnik in the final fifty meters to capture the gold by 0.35 seconds. Despite suffering allergies and a condition that sometimes severely restricted his breathing, Dolan was expected to medal in the 200 individual medley and the 400 meter freestyle as well. He failed to qualify for the finals in the 400 and finished seventh in the 200. He did come away from Atlanta with another honor, however; General Mills put him on the Wheaties box.


Eric Namesnik   Tom Malchow   Gustavo

Eric Namesnik, Tom Malchow, Gustavo Borges

U of M freshman Tom Malchow, the youngest member of the U.S. men's swimming team, finished second in the 200 meter butterfly. Brazil's Gustavo Borges, appearing in his second Olympics, again competed in five events and garnered a silver medal in the 200 meter freestyle and a bronze in the 100 meter freestyle.

U of M junior John Piersma turned in career performances at the trials to make the U.S. team in the 200 and 400 meter freestyle events. He did not make the finals in either event but finished 4th in the 200 meter consolation round and won the 400 meter consolation. Piersma actually finished tenth, one spot ahead of Dolan, in the final standings for the 400 meter freestyle.

Eric Wunderlich, who finished a disappointing third in both the breaststroke races at the 1992 U.S. trials, returned to training and once again came in third in the 100 meter breaststroke, but finally won a place on the 1996 squad in the 200 meter breaststroke. He qualified for the finals and finished seventh.

John Piersma  Marcel Wouda Ferya Buyukuncu  Ryan Papa
John Piersma, Marcel Wouda, Derya Buyukuncu , Ryan Papa

Marcel Wouda of the Netherlands, Derya Buyukuncu of Turkey, and Raymond Papa of the Philippines, and made their second Olympic appearances. Wouda, a letter winner in 1993-1995, made the finals in three events. He fell just short of giving U of M a medal sweep in the 400 hundred meter intermediate medley, finishing fifth in 4:17.3. Wouda missed a bronze medal in the 200 individual medley be 0.32 seconds and helped the Dutch team to a 7th place finish in the 400 meter medley relay.

Buyukuncu, 1996 Big Ten swimmer of the year, competed in three events. He did not make the finals, but did set Turkish national records in the 100 meter backstroke and the 100 meter butterfly. Papa, who lettered for the Wolverines, 1995-1998, represented his country in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke and 100 and 200 meter freestyle. His best finish was a 25th place in the 200 backstroke.

Two incoming U of M freshmen swimmers were in Atlanta. Francisco Suriano Sui represented El Salvador in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke. Shannon Shakespeare of Canada was the U of M's lone woman swimmer in the 1996 games. She did not place in the 100 meter freestyle, helped Canadian relay teams to a fifth place finish in the 800 freestyle and a sixth in the 400 meter medley.

MaliVai Washington
MaliVai Washington

MaliVai Washington became the first Michigan tennis player to be selected for the U.S. Olympic team. Washington competed for Michigan in 1988-1989 before leaving for a successful professional career. As a sophomore he earned All-American honors, was named Big Ten player of the year and was the nations top ranked collegiate player. His top professional finish was a second at Wimbeldon in 1996.

Washington won his first three matches in singles competition before losing to Sergei Bruegera of Spain. He then teamed with Andre Agassi to win a first round match doubles competition, but the pair lost in the second round.

Neil Gardner
Neil Gardner

Neil Gardner, 1996 NCAA champion in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles, represented Jamaica in Atlanta. In the finals of the Jamaican national trials Gardner stumbled on the last hurdle and nearly fell but managed to hang on for third place and a spot on the Olympic squad. The U of M senior expected he would have to lower his personal best of 49.2 seconds by nearly a full second to compete for a medal. He fell just short of meeting that time. Gardner ran a :48.59 in the preliminaries and placed fifth in his semi-final race, missing the fourth place qualifying spot by 0.02 seconds. His time would placed him third in the other semi-final.

Brad Barquist
Brad Barquist

Brad Barquist, a four letter winner in both tack and cross country (1986-1991) ran a 29:20.07 in the 10,000 meters at the U.S Olympic Trials, good enough for third place, but not an automatic spot on the Olympic squad. The time of second place finisher Joe Lemay, however, did not meet the Olympic qualifying standard. Barquist had earlier met the Olympic standard and was awarded the second 10,000 meter slot on the U.S. team. Barquist finished 16th in his first round heat in Atlanta.


Pankratz  Tracy Fuchs
Marcia Pankratz                 Tracey Fuchs 

U of M field hockey coach Marcia Pankratz and her assistant Tracey Fuchs were key members of the US field hockey team. that advanced to the medal round for the first time. Pankratz had also been a member of the 1988 U.S. field hockey team. The U.S. finished in 5th place with a 2-3-2 record. Pankratz led U.S. in scoring with three goals. Fuchs scored one goal and was involved in a controversial play against Britain on which a goal was disallowed.

Diane Ratnick
Diane Ratnik
Diane Ratnik, who played for U-M in 1981, made the Canadian volleyball team for the second time, 12 years after her first appearance in Los Angeles. The Canadians finished in 9th place.

Three other athletes with U of M connections competed for the U.S. in Atlanta. Carlton Bruner from Eastern Michigan won the 1500 meter freestyle at the U.S. trials and Annette Salmeen, an Ann Arbor native who swam for UCLA, competed in the 200 meter butterfly and the 800 meter freestyle relay. Both trained with Jon Urbanchek and Club Wolverine Swimmers. Bruner finished 13th in Atlanta. Salmeen tied for the 12th in the butterfly and swam in the qualifying round for gold medal winning U.S. team.

Diver Mark Lenzi came out of retirement to earn a chance to defend his platform diving gold medal. Lenzi trained for a time with U of M diving coach Dick Kimball. Kimball also coached Ann Arbor Huron School graduate Carolina Itzaina who is competing for Uruguay. She is Uruguay's only diving competitor, making Kimball the de facto national coach.

Three U of M coaches served as assistants for U.S. Olympic teams; swimming coach Jon Urbanchek, women's volleyball coach Greg Giovanazzi and his assistant Mora Kanim. Giovanazzi worked as one of three volunteer advisors for the U.S. women's volleyball team and Kanim served as team statistician. Giovanazzi, who was an assistant coach for the 1992 U.S. team, was responsible for scouting the U.S.'s opponents and providing analysis from the stands during matches. Urbanchek led a training program for the Michigan Olympians at Canham Natatorium.

Jon Urbanchek  Greg Giovanzzi  Mora Kanim
Jon Urbanchek, Greg Giovanazzi, Mora Kanim

Anderson White, a 1955 U of M graduate, was a deck official at the swimming venue for the Atlanta games. His first brush with the Olympics had come 40 years earlier. Anderson was a member of the U of M diving team 1951-1955, one of the few African Americans to compete at a national level. In fact, there is no record of an African American competing in the U.S. Olympic trials. After graduation White entered the military and won the Army diving championship. According to an article in USA Today, the Army had promised to send Anderson to the U.S. diving trials, which were held in his hometown of Detroit. Instead, he was transferred to Germany and missed his chance to make Olympic history. Anderson went on to teach classical and jazz music at Indiana University and has completed a book on the history of African American divers.

Other U of M Athletes at the Trials

An unusually large number of current and former Wolverines tried out for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team. Brian Diemer fell short in his attempt to make a fourth Olympic team in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Diemer placed 5th in his first round heat and 3rd in the semi-finals, but could only manage a 12th in the finals. Trinity Townsend, 1996 All-American, finished fourth in the NCAA 800 meters to earn spot in the Olympic trials. At the Atlanta trials he finished 5th in his preliminary heat in a time of 1:48.71.

Former Wolverine All-American John Fisher, an alternate on the 1992 U.S. wrestling team, again placed second in the team trials. Fisher won three qualifying matches to earn the right to challenge top seeded Terry Brands. Brands prevailed in the best of three championship, winning 4-1 and 7-1 decisions. Kirk Trost, who earlier had been named an assistant coach for the U.S. team, was granted an exemption that allowed him to compete in the qualifying tournament at 228 lbs. He won his quarter-final match but lost in the semi-finals.

Diver Kent Ferguson, 5th place finisher in the 3 meter event at Barcelona and a former world champion, advanced to the final round of competition at the U.S. trials but could only manage a 6th place finish. Swimmers Jason Lancaster and Andy Potts also participated in the U.S. trials. Fourteen members of U of M's Big Ten Champion and NCAA 3rd place women's swimming team qualified for the Olympic trials: Talor Bendel, Alegra Breaux, Karin Bunting, Jen Eberwein, Megan Gillam, Rachel Gustin, Kerri Hale, Beth Jackson, Kim Johnson, Anne Kampfe, Jenny Kurth, Jodi Noavta, Cathy O'Neill and Melissa Stone.

Kevin Sullivan, Michigan's top medal prospect in track, was forced to withdraw from the Canadian trials due to injury. Scott MacDonald finished 6th in the 1500 meter run at the Canadian trials. Tania Longe, who just missed All-American recognition with a ninth place NCAA finish in the heptathlon, competed in the Norwegian trials.

The U-M Results - 1996

Tom Dolan
   400 m. ind. medley1st, 4:14.90
   400 m. freestyledid not place, 4th in heat at 3:53.91, 11th overall
   200 m. ind. medley7th, 2:03.89
Eric Namesnik
   400 m. ind. medley2nd, 4:14.25
Tom Malchow
   200 m. butterfly2nd, 1:57.44
John Piersma
   200 m. freestyledid not place,
5th in prelim. heat, 4th in consolation final
   400 m. freestyledid not place,
4th in heat, 10th overall at 3:53.58, won consolation final in 3:50.69
Eric Wunderlich
   200 m. breaststroke7th, 2:15.69
Derya Buyukuncu (Turkey)
   100 m. backstrokedid not place, 3rd in heat at :56.71, a Turkish national record
   200 m. backstrokedid not place, 4th in heat, 2:04.28
   100 m. butterflydid not place, 5th in heat, :54.89 set Turkish national record
Ryan Papa (Philippines)
   100 meter backstrokedid not place, 2nd in heat, :57.67
   200 meter backstrokedid not place, 6th in heat, 2:05.9, 25th overall
   100 meter freestyledid not compete
   200 m. freestyledid not place, 3rd in heat, 1:54.77, 35th overall
   400 m. freestyledid not compete
Marcel Wouda (Netherlands)
   200 m. ind. medley4th, 2:01.45 (missed bronze by .32seconds.)
   400 m. ind. medley5th, 4:17.30
   400 m. medley relay7th, 7:21.96
Gustavo Borges (Brazil)
   50 m. freestyledid not place (5th in heat at :22.86)
   100 m. freestyle3rd, :49.02
    200 m. freestyle2nd, 1:48.08
   400 m. freestyle relay4th (missed bronze by 1.1 second)
   800 m. freestyle relaydid not place, 3rd in heat
   400 m. medley relaydid not compete
Francisco Suriano (El Salvador)
   100 m. breaststrokedid not place, 6th in heat, 1:05.82
   200 m. breaststrokedid not place, 2nd in heat, 2:25.57
Shannon Shakespeare (Canada)
   100 m. freestyledid not place (5th in heat)
   400 m. free. relay7th, 3:46.27
   800 m. free. relay5th, 8:08.16
   400 m. medley relay5th, 4:08.29
Mali Vai Washington
   tennis, singleswon opening match 6-3, 7-6(7-3)
    won 2nd round match 6-3, 6-4
    won 3rd round match 6-7 (8-10), 6-0, 6-2
    lost to Sergei Bruegera of Spain
    7-6(10-8), 4-6,7-5
   tennis, doubles
with Andre Agassi
won 1st round match 6-4, 6-4
lost 2nd round match 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-0
Neil Gardner (Jamaica)
   400 m. hurdlesdid not place,
4th in prelims, :48.59; 5th in semi-finals, :48.30; missed 4th place qualifying spot by .02 seconds; would have placed 3rd in other semi-final heat.
Brad Barquist
   10,000 meters16th in 1st round heat
Marcia Pankratz and Tracey Fuchs
   field hockey5th place, 2-3-2 record
    tied Netherlands 1-1
    beat Korea 3-2
    lost to Britain 0-1
    lost to Argentina 1-2
    tied Germany 1-1
    lost to Australia 0-4
    beat Spain 2-0
    Pankratz led U.S. in scoring with three goals. Fuchs scored one goal and was involved in a controversial play against Britain on which a goal was disallowed.
Diane Ratnik (Canada)
   volleyball9th place

Jon Urbanchek
   assistant swimming coach
Greg Giovanazzi
   assistant volleyball coach
Mora Kanim
   assistant volleyball coach

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