Get to Know Our Champions

MyKayla Skinner - Gymnastics 

Instagram: @mykaylaskinner2016

Twitter: @mykaylaskinner

Website: youtube.com/MykaylaSkinnerOfficial

Age: 23

Sport: Gymnastics

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

Currently resides: Gilbert, Arizona

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? I was an alternate in the 2016 Olympics.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I have been doing gymnastics my whole life but I’m excited for my life after the Olympics.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? My older sisters did gymnastics before me so they started teaching me as soon as I could walk, but I didn’t officially join a gym and start practicing until I was 5.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Tell me I can’t, then watch me work twice as hard to prove you wrong.”

The best piece of advice you have been given? Don’t sweat the small things.

Favorite food? Chicken nuggets and French fries

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Horseback riding

Favorite country to compete in? Scotland

Who is your Olympic hero? Shawn Johnson

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I am married and my husband is 6’6”.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I love sleeping and taking naps.

Gia Doonan - Rowing 

Instagram: @doonankid

Name: Gia Doonan

Age: 25

Sport: rowing

Hometown: Rochester, MA

Currently resides: Princeton, NJ

Is this your first Olympics? YES, First Olympics.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I grew up in Massachusetts and then went to college at The University of Texas at Austin. I am extremely passionate about sport in general and the emotion it brings out of everyone, regardless of what sport it is.

At what age did you start your sport? I started rowing when I was 15, freshman year in high school. I was originally going to join the track team because I thought I was pretty good at running. However, the rowing coach came up to me and told me to give rowing a shot. So I said why not.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? Positive thoughts, positive actions. -my dad

The best piece of advice you have been given? Don’t let your highs get to high and your lows get to low. -Dave O’neil, Texas coach

Favorite food? Potato chips

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I love to swim, hike, be outside!

Favorite country to compete in? Lucerne, Switzerland.

Who is your Olympic hero? Elle Logan

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I have been attempting to teach myself how to play guitar for a few years.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? Recipe for success= care about what you are doing and try your best. 

Jaide Stepter - Track and Field

Instagram: @jaidesteps

Name: Jaide Stepter

Age: 25

Sport: Track & Field

Hometown: Tucson, AZ

Currently resides: Redondo Beach, CA

Is this your first Olympics? Yes, Tokyo will be my first!

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am a 2019 Pan American Games Gold Medalist (4x400 relay), a 2x Silver Medalist at the IAAF World Relays (4x400 mixed relay & 4x400 relay), and currently ranked 16th in the World in the 400m.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I have been around Track all of my life. My mom is a former American Record Holder in the 400 Hurdles and she competed in the 1988 Olympics. After retiring, she started a youth track team for my older sister and her friends, and I wanted to do everything that my sister did.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Am I good enough? Yes, I am.” – Michelle Obama

The best piece of advice you have been given? Never give anyone else the authority to affirm or criticize your dreams. They’re yours. Go after them.

Favorite food? Mexican Food

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I used to play volleyball in high school

Favorite country to compete in? Switzerland - the country is gorgeous and that’s where I achieved my personal best time

Who is your Olympic hero? Allyson Feliz – her journey has not been smooth but she always finds a way to shine at the right moment. One day, I’d love to dominate the way that she used to.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I studied animation at USC and I do work on the side as a graphic designer

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I am a strong believer in going after your passions and doing what brings you joy.

Mary Tucker - Shooting

Instagram: @mtucker10.9


Age: 18

Sport: Shooting - Rifle

Hometown: Sarasota, Florida

Currently resides: Lexington, Kentucky

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? This will be my first Olympics

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am very determined and will do anything to better myself in and out of the sport. I find my strength in my faith in God and putting trust in my process.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started shooting around age 9 but did not really get into this specific discipline until my junior year of high school in 2017.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “It’s not the will to win that matters. Everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” Bear Bryant

The best piece of advice you have been given? Practice until you can perform in your sleep, then practice some more. Also to never give up and never be afraid to ask questions.

Favorite food? Anything sweet.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Hunting, fishing, equestrian, art.

Favorite country to compete in? Austria and Germany have been my favorites so far.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I really love coaching and helping other athletes perform at their best, even if that means beating me (more reason to get better). 

Mariel Zagunis - Fencing

Instagram: @mariel.zagunis

Twitter: @marielzagunis

Age: 35

Sport: Fencing

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon

Currently resides: Beaverton, Oregon

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? 5th Olympic team! Athens 2004- Individual Gold; Beijing 2008- Individual Gold & Team Bronze; London 2012- 4th place individually & Flag Bearer for Team USA; Rio 2016- 9th Individually & Team Bronze

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am a 5x Olympian and mom to my 2.5 year old daughter, Sunday.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started fencing at age 10 because my older brother was obsessed with the sword fighting he saw in movies and on TV. My mom signed him up for fencing classes, which was how I was first exposed, and I immediately wanted to follow my brother into the obscure sport.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “All you need is already inside.”

The best piece of advice you have been given? Before the Beijing Olympics I was really lacking the self confidence and the self belief that I could repeat my result from Athens 4 years prior. My dad’s advice to me (in fewer words) was to trust in the lifetime of hard work I had been putting in. At this stage of the game (a few weeks before Beijing), there wasn’t much else I could do to change what was going to happen, so I just needed to let go and trust my own abilities...heeding his advice, I repeated as Olympic Champion.

Favorite food? Bread in all forms!

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I have loved playing soccer since I was 4 years old, and about 15 years ago picked up tennis. I continue to play both sports as a form for exercise and fun.

Favorite country to compete in? I enjoy competing in Italy because the food is amazing. I love competing in France because fencing is widely popular there and the competitions are run like major sporting events.

Who is your Olympic hero? Michael Phelps, among others.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I’m not a dog person!

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? Although I am the most decorated fencer in US history, I’m never focused on setting/breaking records. Especially at this stage in my life I continue in order to inspire the next generation of young female fencers/athletes to show them that anything is possible. 

Kaleigh Gilchrist - Water Polo

Instagram: @kaleighgilchrist

Twitter: @KGilchrist15

Website: https://www.kaleighgilchrist.com

Age: 27

Sport: Water Polo

Hometown: Newport Beach, CA

Currently resides: Newport Beach, CA

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? 2016 Gold Medalist.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Everything negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise.” Kobe

The best piece of advice you have been given? To love what you do.

Favorite food? Al Cap Bagels and Alta Coffee.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Surfing.

Favorite country to compete in? USA.

Who is your Olympic hero? My Dad, Sandy Gilchrist and Kobe Bryant.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I am also a professional surfer.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? My dad and uncle are both 2x Olympians for Canada in swimming.

Amanda Chidester - Softball

Instagram: @chiddy3

Twitter: @chiddy3

Website: http://chiddysoftball.com

Nickname: Chiddy (everyone in the softball world knows me as “Chiddy”)

Age: 29 (30 on April 11)

Sport: Softball

Hometown: Allen Park, MI

Currently resides: Ann Arbor, MI

College: University of Michigan

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes this is my first Olympics. Softball was taken out of the Olympics in 2008 and this is the first year it will be back in.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? That I am an extremely passionate person.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started when I was about 6 playing T-Ball. I played baseball on my brother's team until I was 12. My parents and I realized if I wanted to go any further in the sport I needed to get into Softball.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? "Live the life you love. Love the life you live." "Put it in God’s hands." "Live with no regrets."

The best piece of advice you have been given? Anytime I would get worried and worked up my Grandma would always tell me. "Do not worry Honey, put it in God’s hands. He always knows what to do." That has stuck with me more than ever before these last 3 years.

Favorite food? Anyone who knows me knows how much I love food. Its hard for me to say what is my favorite. I LOVE LOVE ice cream and wish I could eat endless amounts. I also love sushi.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I love the outdoors lifestyle. Hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, camping, biking, rock climbing, and anything I can do outside.

Favorite country to compete in? The energy in Japan is unreal. They love the sport of softball there and you can feel it the second you walk into the stadium.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I love to journal, read, and have quiet time by myself. Most people see me with so much energy but I need my alone time to recharge.

Valerie Arioto - Softball

Instagram: @valeriearioto

Website: www.valeriearioto.com

Age: 30

Sport: Softball

Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

Currently resides: Walnut Creek, CA

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes, this is my first Olympics.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am passionate about using self-care and the mental side of the game to enhance performance and focus on me as a whole to be able to achieve great things in my career.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started playing softball around age 10. I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and water skied along with playing softball growing up. There was such a great community around softball that I continued to play because of the amazing people and the fun I had playing.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? "Good Vibes Only."

The best piece of advice you have been given? “Just be you!”—My Dad

Favorite food? Chips and salsa!

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I love to bowl and bike (for fun of course)!

Favorite country to compete in? I played in Japan for 2 years and it is a very peaceful place! But there is nothing like competing at home in the USA!

Who is your Olympic hero? All of the past Olympic Softball Teams are my heroes. They have paved the way for the current team and have set a standard of excellence.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I look very serious on the field at times, but I am very outgoing and loud off the field.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I am so excited for this Olympic journey and I appreciate the support!

Amy Bilquist - Swimming

Instagram: @amybilquist


Age: 22

Sport: Swimming

Hometown: Carmel, IN

Currently resides: Scottsdale, AZ

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes (hopefully!)

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley. I was a captain of the swim and dive team for both my junior and senior year. I graduated a 5x NCAA Champion and a member of multiple American Record setting relays. I graduated with the highest female student-athlete GPA in my major, Media Studies. I love my pets, my dog’s name is Luke and my cat’s name is Potter.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I was introduced to swimming when we moved to Goodyear, AZ when I turned three. We had a pool in our backyard that had no fence so my mom wanted to make sure I was water safe by bringing me in the water and playing with me until I became comfortable and could swim around on my own. I fell in love with swimming very early on and just remember loving (and still loving) the feeling of being in the water. I started competitive summer league swimming at age 4, and club swimming at age 6!

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Learn to rise after each time you fall down. That is how you learn to write your own story.” ― Purvi Raniga

I’ve had quite a few injuries in my career that used to make me feel that I could not get back up to the same level of my competitors because they were not facing the same setbacks. This quote helped me realize that no matter how many times I fall down I will be able to get back up and that my story may look different than others but that is what makes my journey beautiful and unique.

The best piece of advice you have been given? Use adversity as an opportunity.

Favorite food? Tacos!

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Volleyball!! Both indoors and sand. Also, I like to dance.

Favorite country to compete in? Budapest.

Who is your Olympic hero? Natalie Coughlin.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I love True Crime and listen to podcasts about the topic all the time.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I recently fostered a cat from the Humane Society and my mom just adopted him! His name is Potter!

Paige McPherson - Taekwondo

Instagram: @aka_mcfierce

Twitter: @mcfierce2012

Age: 29

Sport: TaeKwonDo

Hometown: Sturgis, South Dakota

Currently resides: Miami, Florida

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? London 2012 Bronze Medalist / Rio 2016 Olympian

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am the first American female athlete to be competing in their third consecutive Olympics and its all due to strength of my Lord and the love and support of a village of people behind my efforts.  

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started officially at 7 years of age. I wanted to do everything my older brother got into. When he joined the local TaeKwonDo school in our small town, it took me two years to follow in his footsteps as I proved before age 7 that I wasn’t mature enough to start. I begged my family to put my into it and since then it has brought me so much growth in my career and in my personal growth.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your path.”

The best piece of advice you have been given? Stay true in hard times and humble in the spotlight.

Favorite food? Korean BBQ.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I played the violin for 6 years. I enjoy the beach and playing volleyball with friends.

Favorite country to compete in? China Taipei.

Who is your Olympic hero? My coach, Juan Moreno who is himself a 3x Olympian, 2x Olympic silver medalist. He is my hero because he believed in me before I believed in myself.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I was adopted into the McPherson family at 4 days old. My parents adopted five kids from around the world and now known as the “Rainbow Family”.


Eliza Stone - Fencing 

Instagram: @eliza.stone

Age: 29

Sport: Women’s Saber Fencing

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Currently resides: Princeton, NJ

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes, Tokyo 2020 will be my first Olympics. I’m 99% qualified, just waiting on a technical rule and one last competition for it to be official.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am the reigning 2019 Pan American Games Individual and Team Champion, 2018 World Championships individual bronze medalist, 2014 World Championships team gold medalist, and ranked #4 in the world. I’m also a Princeton University graduate on my way to medical school, after the conclusion of the Olympics Games in the fall of 2021. I’ve been fencing my whole life, though I didn’t pursue Olympic level fencing until after college. This makes me a late bloomer, compared to most other competitors in my field. But the added maturity and focus has worked out to my advantage, allowing me to work through losses and injuries and come back stronger than ever to now make my first Olympic Team.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I was 10 years old when I began. I started by luck. My siblings and I were homeschooled, and we needed a sport that could be done without school teams. We found a flier for fencing classes at our local pizza parlor, and the rest is history.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”—Winston Churchill

The best piece of advice you have been given? Take a deep breath and keep fighting.

Favorite food? Milk.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Bicycling, Books on Tape.

Favorite country to compete in? France.

Who is your Olympic hero? I respect all those who can make it that far, but I don’t have a hero. This was never about copying someone else.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I was a political philosophy major in college and enjoy reading ancient/medieval political thought. 

Kamali Thompson - Fencing

Instagram: @dr.mali.mallz

Twitter: @Kamali_Thompson

Website: www.kamalithompson.com

Age: 28

Sport: Fencing

Hometown: Teaneck, NJ

Currently resides: Norwalk, CT

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes (hopefully!)

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I am a 4th year MD/MBA student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Next year I will be applying for residency in orthopedic surgery while finishing Olympic qualifications. Orthopedic surgery is only 6% females and 4% minority doctors so it will be really exciting to enter this field

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I actually started fencing really late. I started fencing on my high school fencing team and my junior year I joined my club Peter Westbrook Foundation. It wasn’t until senior year I started competing nationally and was recruited to my alma mater, Temple University.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Relentlessly put in the work. You may not see the results for a long time. Don’t get frustrated by success you see around you. Don’t be discouraged by those who cut corners. Value your integrity. Be patient. Keep building. Find confidence in your preparation.” -Alyson Felix

She put this as her Instagram caption about a year ago and I never related to something more. It captures the difficulties you come across as an athlete while still being extremely motivational.

The best piece of advice you have been given? Be comfortable with getting uncomfortable.

Favorite food? Sushi, perfect for Tokyo.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Dancing, after I fence I’ll look into ballroom dancing.

Favorite country to compete in? Italy.

Who is your Olympic hero? Tie between Alyson Felix and Simone Biles (she has 2 moves named after her).

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I used to dance before I started fencing. When I was in high school I was a dance teacher on the weekends.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? My brother also fences and is a 2020 Olympic hopeful.

Madisyn Cox - Swimming

Instagram: @mad_cox

Twitter: @mad_cox

Age: 24

Sport: Swimming

Hometown: Lubbock, Tx

Currently resides: Austin, Tx

Is this your first Olympics? Yes.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I graduated from the University of Texas in 2018 where I competed collegiately and lead our team as captain to be a top 5 program. Since then, I have been swimming professionally as well as applying for medical school and managing my etsy shop for watercolor cards. I plan to attend medical school following the Olympic games.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I began swimming when I was four. I got into swimming because my sisters swam and I was always itching to get into the water when watching their practices.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

The best piece of advice you have been given? Choose courage over comfort.

Favorite food? Steak.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? I really enjoy playing pickleball, painting, and reading.

Favorite country to compete in? Hungary.

Who is your Olympic hero? Elizabeth Beisel for her tremendous leadership, perseverance, and work ethic.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? Growing up my dream was to be a Lady Raider (Texas Tech) basketball player. It wasn’t until 8th grade that I gave up that dream. Even then, I continued to train and compete for my high school track and cross country team. I didn’t narrowed my sports focus down to swimming until college.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I have a precious dog named Fernando that I rescued about 2 years ago.

Michal Smolen - Kayak

Instagram: @instapaddler

Twitter: @michalsmolen

Website: www.michalsmolen.me

Age: 26

Sport: Canoe/Kayak, Slalom

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Currently resides: Currently in New Zealand, home is Charlotte but I’m never there more than a few weeks a year

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Rio 2016, 12th place.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? Kayaking has been part of my life since I was very young. It’s not only allowed me to purse an exciting athletic career, but it has also allowed me to travel the world and explore many different places and cultures. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? The first time I tried kayaking was at the age of ten, but I didn’t really like it so much. It was a very frightening experience, but I gave it another go shortly after. The second time was a little easier, and the third a little more, and so on. Before I knew it, I was heading over to Europe for my first junior competition. Needless to say, I’m very happy I didn’t call it quits after that first experience.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? Dreams don’t work unless you do.

The best piece of advice you have been given? Just because it’s not perfect doesn’t mean that it’s not enough. Never judge yourself too early.

Favorite food? Homemade pizza.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Mountain biking, camping, traveling the world.

Favorite country to compete in? Czech Republic.

Who is your Olympic hero? While watching the Olympic Games when I was younger, I was really inspired by Michael Phelps and his early success.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I was born in Poland and moved to the United States when I was around 10 years old.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? Being a part of a small and somewhat obscure sport, we only get one chance every four years to compete while the whole world is watching. It’s an incredible experience and I’m always super happy to share my sport with people who have never seen or heard about it before.

Dagmara Wozniak - Fencing 

Instagram: @dagmarawozniak

Twitter: @DagaUSAFencing

Website: www.dagmarawozniak.com

Age: 31

Sport: Fencing

Hometown: Avenel, NJ

Currently resides: Jersey City NJ

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Not my first Olympics: 2008 Replacement athlete, 2012 8th place, 2016 24th individually and bronze in team. I am currently training for my 3rd official Olympic Games. I have dedicated my life to this sport because it is my passion. In addition to being an athlete I do motivational speaking about following your dreams as well as a body positivity advocate.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started when I was 9 at a local polish Community center. My dad was familiar with the sport because it’s popular in Europe and we immigrated when I was 1 from Poland. He took me to a class and I fell in love because it was different and it was a challenge.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? "You can chose courage or you can chose comfort. You cannot chose both."

The best piece of advice you have been given? Failure has to happen in order for you to get stronger. I failed so many times in my life and that is why I can pick myself up every time.

Favorite food? Thai.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Beach volleyball or indoor volleyball.

Favorite country to compete in? South Korea.

Who is your Olympic hero? My Olympic hero is Lindsey Von.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I don’t know what people would be surprised to know about me haha, I’m kind of an open book!

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? Besides sports I have another hero and her name is Joanna Gaines! I’m a huge DIY nerd and I love to take on projects all the time. I’m also amazing at organization, it’s a sickness. 

Kyra Condie - Sport Climbing

Instagram: @kyra_condie

Twitter: @kyracondie

Website: www.kyracondie.com

Age: 23

Sport: Sport Climbing

Hometown: Shoreview, MN

Currently resides: Salt Lake City, UT

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Yes this will be my first Olympics! It’s also the first time sport climbing will be included, it’s a new sport.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I’m a professional climber who has been climbing for 12 years. I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2018 and have been climbing professionally ever since. I hope to go to veterinary school when I finish with my competitive climbing career! I also got 10 vertebrae fused in a spinal fusion surgery to correct my severe adolescent scoliosis in 2010.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started climbing when I was 11 and was actually introduced to the sport as a whole at a birthday party.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Without confidence you’ll always find a way not to win.”

The best piece of advice you have been given? Trust in your training.

Favorite food? Pasta.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Puzzles, Netflix, soccer, knitting, sewing, and cooking.

Favorite country to compete in? Japan.

Who is your Olympic hero? Simone Biles.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I’m pretty nerdy.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I love animals, listening to Spanish music, and can play the flute. 

Nina Buitrago - BMX

Instagram: @Nina_Burito

Twitter: @Nina_Burrito

Age: 39

Sport: BMX

Currently resides: Austin, TX

Nina has played a major role in BMX Cycling for women for almost 20 years. She was the first sponsored female rider and is known as the number on advocate for women in freestyle. Her efforts have led to equal participation, inclusion, medaled events, and equal pay in some of the biggest competitions in the sport, including the Vans BMX Pro Cup. She spearheaded inclusion at X Games and FISE UCI World Cup Series and continues to advocate for girls and women in Action Sports. As one of the only women in the sport in the early 2000's, she is thrilled to see women's BMX freestyle debut on the Olympic stage in 2020. 

Kelsey LeFevour - Paralympian Track & Field 

Instagram: @klefevour

Twitter: @Kelseylefevour

Age: 30

Sport: Paralympic Track and Field

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois – actually Chicago! 

Currently resides: Champaign, Illinois

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Tokyo 2020 would be my second Paralympics. My first Paralympic experience was in 2016 in Rio de Janiero. I competed in the T53 100m, 400m and 800m. I was a finalist in the 100m and finished 7th overall.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? We are all many things. I am an athlete and that is a very important part of my identity, but I am also a student and a teacher and a researcher. We all wear many hats and carry many titles beyond what is most often seen. I love being an athlete but I love being those other things too.

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I was actually 18 years old when I got involved in sport for the first time. I was a freshman in college at the University of Illinois

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

The best piece of advice you have been given? There is no substitute for the miles. You have to put the work in.

Favorite food? Deep dish pizza!

Other sports/activities you enjoy?I am a dog mom to a Maltese named Sadie so we enjoy daily walks through our neighborhood and at the park near our house.

Favorite country to compete in? Switzerland

Who is your Olympic hero? Jessica Galli. When I first got involved in wheelchair racing, Jessie was part of the Illinois Wheelchair Athletics program here in Champaign and it meant so much to have a mentor in the sport who was also my friend at the same time. She was so well accomplished on track and within the sport but she took the time to meet me where I was in the sport – just starting out. I didn’t know anything – like asking what the lines on the track meant day after day kind of new –and she was so patient with me and reminded me all the time that every single one of the people that we trained with everyday were once where I was – brand new.

Anything else you would like to tell people about yourself? I am hoping to have my PhD finished in December 2020!

Brad Snyder - Paralympian 

Instagram: @BradSnyderUSA

Twitter: @BradSnyderUSA

Brad Snyder began his professional career as an Ensign in the US Navy, having graduated from the US Naval Academy with a degree in Naval Architecture. Through his distinction as the swim team captain during his final year, he earned an assignment as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer. Brad deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008, and deployed again two years later to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After six months of assault operations, Brad was severely injured by the explosion of a nearby improvised explosive device (IED).

Brad sustained complete vision loss as a result of the explosion, but did not suffer any other lasting wounds. As a part of his rehabilitation process Brad returned to the pool, and after a few months of training earned a spot on the US Paralympic National Team for swimming. At the 2012 Paralympics he competed in seven events, earning two Gold medals and one Silver medal. His victory in the 400 meter freestyle occurred on the 7th of September, 2012, which marked exactly one year from the day he suffered his vision loss.

Brad medically retired from Naval service in 2013, and three years later returned to the Paralympic Games, this time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brad competed in five events, earning three Gold medals, one Silver medal, and broke a World Record that had stood for over thirty years.

Since then, Brad has returned to his alma mater to serve as a leadership instructor for future naval officers.

Alex Bowen- Water Polo 

Instagram: @abrickbowen

Twitter: @amazing_brick


Age:26

Sport: Water Polo

Hometown: Santee CA

Currently resides: Santee, CA

Is this your first Olympics? If not, what previous Olympics have you competed in and how did you place? Rio 2016, 9th place.

If you were to introduce yourself, what would you want people to know about you? I have an engineering degree from Stanford and I love my life!

At what age did you start your sport and just a short few sentences about how you got into your sport? I started around 8 years old. My Dad was and still is the coach at my local high school, so I would splash around in the shallow end from a young age and joined the under 12s team when I could swim well enough.

A quote that inspires you to be your best? “Success is never Final, Failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts.” -John Wooden

The best piece of advice you have been given? Think in threes, and control the controllable.

Favorite food? Mexican Food.

Other sports/activities you enjoy? Drawing and Video Games.

Favorite country to compete in? Hungary.

Who is your Olympic hero? Tony Azevedo.

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I enjoy cooking.