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Four Villanovans Chase Their Olympic Dreams

By Shawn Proctor

All eyes are on Tokyo as the 2020 Summer Games opening ceremonies commence tonight. Four Villanovans will be among the athletes competing for gold, adding to 108 years of Villanova glory at the Olympics.

Marcus O'Sullivan competes in 1982, two years before competing in the Olympics, his first of four..

Marcus O’Sullivan, part of the legendary Irish Pipeline, races in 1982, two years before competing in the Summer Olympics, his first of four appearances. O’Sullivan is now Head Coach of Villanova Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field.

In all, 66 Villanovans have competed representing 15 different countries, winning 10 gold and five silver medals in the Olympics, and the University has been represented in every Summer Olympics since 1948. For more than five decades, beginning that year, this running dominance was, in large part, powered by the famed Irish Pipeline, which saw an influx of Irish runners competing in U.S. collegiate track and field. This included, in all, 715 athletes who enrolled in programs in all 50 states, and made Villanova a destination for the fleetest of feet.

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, the newest member of this pipeline, will represent Ireland in the 800-meters event. Australian Patrick Tiernan takes to the track for his second Olympics where he will run for gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters races, only the 22nd Villanovan to compete in multiple Olympics. “Every young athlete dreams about the chance to represent their country at the Olympics,” Tiernan told Villanova Magazine in 2016.

Sports writer Joe Boozell once quipped, “Water is wet, and Villanova is good at basketball.” This summer will add to Villanova’s Olympic memories on the hardwood, which most recently saw alumnus Kyle Lowry and Jay Wright win gold as player and coach, respectively, in the 2016 Olympics. Wright takes up the clipboard again as Assistant Coach of the USA Men’s Basketball Team, guiding a team brimming with veteran NBA talent.

Lastly, Summer (Cook) Rappaport will swim, bike, and run against the world’s best as she represents the United States in the triathlon, both in women’s individual and mixed relay.

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Shawn Proctor Head shot
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Last Modified: July 22, 2021