Boulder has strong presence in upcoming Olympic games

Emma Coburn

Just like Boulder seems to support more than the typical per capita number of bike shops and running shoe stores, this year’s Olympics, which begin on Friday, July 27, in London, will see a stunning 11 competitors from Boulder — all of them cycling or running after medals.

Two of the athletes, Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp, are current members of the University of Colorado track and cross-country teams, and another three of the 11 are former Buffs. This means that CU has the highest number of current students and graduates of any university in middle- and long-distance races, says Heather Burroughs, associate head coach of the CU track and field team.

“It’s pretty satisfying to have so many of our athletes competing,” says Burroughs. “We look at not only how our current athletes do, but also how our graduates are doing. We think that’s an important reflection of our work at CU, that people are ready to continue, and that they’re still excited and they have a lot of good running left in them.”

Both Coburn and Kipp will compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, where Coburn is the defending national champion. Both of the women are hopefuls for the finals in London if they have a “good day,” says Burroughs.

CU student Flora Duffy will compete in the triathlon. Duffy competed in the 2008 Olympics, but did not finish the race due to an injury. She will represent her native Bermuda in the games.

Laura Bennett will also compete in the triathlon. She lives in Boulder with husband Greg, another Olympic triathlete. Bennett came in fourth in the triathlon at the Beijing Olympics.

Jenny Simpson, the first CU athlete to gain eligibility for an international team in the steeplechase, will be competing in the 1,500-meter run. Simpson is expected to do well in the event after winning the world championship in 2011.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a former member of the CU track team, will compete in the 10,000-meter run in London. This marks Ritzenhein’s third time in the Olympics. Another former member of CU’s track and cross-country teams, Kara Goucher, will compete in the marathon. Goucher is also an Olympic veteran.

Erie resident Constantina Dita will defend her Olympic medal in the women’s marathon. When Dita won the marathon in 2008 at the age of 38, she became the oldest Olympic marathon champion in history. Dita represents her birth country, Romania, in the Olympics.

Boulder-born cyclist Timmy Duggan is competing for his first time in the Games, in the cycling road race. In the 2008 Tour de Georgia, Duggan crashed while riding downhill and sustained life-threatening injuries. He has since recovered to take first place in this year’s USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship.

“Coming back from that brain injury that nearly killed me is one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of,” Duggan says. “That I could go from such a low low, and come back to be better than I was before is an unquantifiable reward. To be here at the Olympics now is really satisfying, because I’ve been working towards something like this for my whole career.”

Taylor Phinney, who grew up in Boulder with two Olympian parents, Davis Phinney, who medaled in road racing in the 1984 Olympics, and Connie Carpenter, who won gold for road racing the same year, will compete in the cycling road race and time trials. This is the 21-yearold’s second Olympics.

And Tejay Van Garderen, a Boulder resident, will also compete in the cycling road race, just days after finishing the Tour de France.

Van Garderen won the white jersey in the Tour de France, designating him as the best rider age 25 or younger. Van Garderen dedicated his Tour de France performance to the victims of the Aurora theater shooting, saying that he would be thinking of them when he finished the race in Paris.


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