TOKYO, Japan — Several Vols For Life and East Tennessee athletes lived out their dreams of competing on the world's largest stage for sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics -- and several came home Olympic medalists!
The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics began July 23 on WBIR Channel 10 and ran through August 8.
Here's how our local athletes did:
Monica Abbott - Team USA Softball
FINAL: Monica Abbott and Team USA took home their second silver medal in softball after going undefeated in round robin play, but falling to Japan in the final gold medal match.
Abbot remained a dominant force for Team USA this Olympics -- perplexing her opponents from the mound and nearly pitching a shutout game against Canada. You can read about her accomplishments in Tokyo here.
Moniacs get ready -- the VFL southpaw pitcher from California is heading to her second Olympics and is hoping to bring home the gold with Team USA this time after earning the silver at Beijing in 2008.
Abbott has had tremendous success internationally with 17 different championship titles, leading Team USA to four World Cup of Softball Championships, three Canada Cup titles, and gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 ISF Women's World Championships. She's also a five-time Japan Softball League Champion.
Abbott is a force to be reckoned with on the mound. In Beijing, she pitched the first-ever 5-inning perfect game in the Olympics
Six teams will face each other for the gold in round-robin play in the Olympics, including Team USA, Team Japan, Team Italy, Team Mexico, Team Canada, and Team Australia.
Team USA will take on Italy in its first matchup at noon JST on July 21 -- with the top four teams competing for medals on July 27.
Kendra "Keni" Harrison - Team USA Track & Field (Women's 100m Hurdles)
FINAL: Keni Harrison went on to win silver in the 100m hurdles!
The Tennessee-born athlete and University of Kentucky alum is competing in her first Olympics, but she's already proven herself to be the best in the world after setting a new world record in the 100m hurdles in 2016.
That record came just one week after missing a spot on the 2016 Rio Olympic team.
Harrison has won several championships in her career, including a gold medal at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles.
Alex Walsh - Team USA Swimming (200m Individual Medley)
FINAL: Nashville swimmer Alex Walsh is coming home an Olympic silver medalist after putting up a dominant performance in the 200m Individual Medley with a time of 2:08.65.
Walsh was neck-and-neck with Japan's Yui Ohashi in the final stretch. Ohashi would win her second gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics after edging out Walsh by just a fraction of a second with a time of 2:08.52.
Walsh was able to improve upon her already impressive time in the semi-finals of 2:09.57 by more than a second, where she placing first in her group and third overall behind U.S. teammate Kate Douglass (2:09.21) and Abbie Wood from Great Britain (2:09.56). Team USA took home two medals in the event between Walsh's silver and Douglass' bronze.
The 19-year-old swimmer from Nashville burst onto the national stage in the 200m Individual Medley and has punched her ticket to the Olympics!
Walsh swims for the University of Virginia and was named the ACC's Women's Rookie of the Year after taking home two 2021 NCAA Championships in the 200m IM and 800m Free Relay. She also holds several All-America, ACC Champion, and All-ACC titles.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 200m IM heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 26.
Erika Brown - Team USA Swimming (100m Freestyle, 4x100m Freestyle relay)
FINAL: Erika Brown is coming home an Olympic medalist after winning a bronze medal as Team USA finished with a time of 3:32.81 in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay.
Brown made it as far as the semifinals in the Women's 100m Freestyle swim, placing 13th with a time of 53.58.
The recently graduated VFL swimmer and Charlotte native is making her Olympic debut and has proven she's one of the best swimmers in the United States, breaking the American record in the 100m butterfly with a time of 49.38 and earning 18 gold medals in SEC competition, 21 All-America certificates. Brown also held two of the nation's top times at the end of her senior season in the 100m free (46.15) and 200m free (1:41:66).
She is only the second women to ever swim a sub-46 seconds 100m free, joining Olympian Simone Manuel.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 100m Freestyle heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 28.
Erica Bougard - Team USA Track & Field (Women's Heptathlon)
FINAL: Bougard placed 9 out of 20 with 6379 points after seven events, putting up solid performances early on in the high jump and 100m hurdles. The top 3 athletes from Belgium and the Netherlands, though, were able to create a 200+ point lead by dominating the long jump and javelin throw events.
Bougard, a Memphis native, has proven she can do it all on the field, whether it's jumping hurdles, dashing, or throwing the shot put.
She's a three-time USATF Outdoors heptathlon bronze medalist, 2021 USA Junior heptathlon champion and 2013 NCAA indoor pentathlon champion.
You can watch her compete in the women's heptathlon starting with the high jump on Tuesday, August 3 at 9:35 p.m. EDT at this link.
Darryl Sullivan - Team USA Track & Field (Men's High Jump)
FINAL: Darryl Sullivan did not make it into the top 13 who would advance to the finals.
The VFL and 4-time all American high jumper from Marion, Illinois matched his lifetime-best jump on June 27, placing second at the trials to secure his spot on the Olympic team.
Sullivan holds the school record in the even, and was the first Tennessee track & field athlete to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump.
Of note, Sullivan is the first UT athlete to ever qualify to compete in the Olympic high jump!
His 2.33 meter mark currently is tied for third in the world during the 2021 outdoor season.
You can watch him compete in the Olympic qualifiers on Thursday, July 29 at 8:15 p.m. EDT at this link.
Carey McLeod - Team Jamaica Track & Field (Men's Long Jump, Triple Jump)
FINAL: Carey McLeod put up strong performances in both the long jump and triple jump, but ultimately did not advance to the finals in either event.
McLeod is a UT Sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica and excels at going the distance.
McLeod was the only athlete in the country to be a first team All-American in both horizontal jumps. In 2021, he set three new school records in the indoor and outdoor long jump, and the indoor triple jump. He's an SEC Champion and among the top 10 athletes in NCAA triple jump history.
You can watch him compete in the men's long jump qualifiers on Saturday, July 31 starting at 5:30 a.m. EDT at this link, and then the men's triple jump qualifiers on Monday, August 2 at 8 p.m. EDT at this link.
Joella Lloyd - Team Antigua and Barbuda Track & Field (100m Dash)
FINAL: Joella Lloyd went on to place 46 overall in qualifiers with a time of 11.54, just a few milliseconds behind the final qualifying runner who ran it in 11.35.
The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee announced Lady Vol redshirt freshman Joella Lloyd will represent the country in Tokyo!
The 19-year-old sprinter made her mark in the Tennessee record book in 2021, tying the all-time program standard in the indoor 60m dash and breaking both the Lady Vol record and her country's national record for the 100m dash with a time of 11.19.
She will be the third Lady Vol track & field Olympian, joining Alice Annum and Tianna Bartoletta.
She is scheduled to compete in round 1 of the Women's 100m on Thursday, July 29 starting at 11:15 p.m. EDT. You can watch her live at this link.
Stamatia Scarvelis -Team Greece Track & Field (Hammer Throw)
FINAL: Stamatia Scarvelis went on to throw a distance of 69.01m in the qualifiers, but that was just a couple meters short of qualifying for the finals.
University of Tennessee VFL powerhouse thrower Stamatia Scarvelis will represent Greece for her Olympic debut in the hammer throw.
The Lady Vol legend holds several school records for the shot put, weight throw and hammer throw. Her personal best in the event, 71.33 meters, makes her the second-best Greek female hammer thrower of all time -- behind two-time Olympian Stiliani Papadopoulou.
Scarvelis also holds the Greek national record for the weight throw at 24.06 meters, which she set in the 2019 SEC Championships to become the indoor champion.
You can watch her compete in the qualifying round in Tokyo on Saturday, July 31 at 8:10 p.m. EDT live at this link.
Cherelle Thompson - Team Trinidad & Tobago (50m Freestyle)
FINAL: Thompson put up a time of 26.19 in her first Olympic swim in the 50m freestyle heats. Unfortunately, that was a little more than a second short of qualifying for semifinals.
Thompson is making her first appearance in the Summer Games to compete for Trinidad and Tobago.
The LVFL All-American is competing in the 50m freestyle. UT said she helped lead the Lady Vols to a top 15 finishes at the NCAA Championships during her three seasons on Rocky Top, placing third in 2013.
Michael Houlie - Team South Africa (100m Breaststroke)
FINAL: Michael Houlie competed in his event's heat on July 24. He finished last in 1:01.22.
Senior Vol simmer Michael Houlie is making his Olympic debut in the 100m Breastroke, representing his home country of South Africa.
Houlie recently took home the silver in the event at the 2021 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships, and won four medals at the championships in his three seasons at UT. He also currently holds the school record in the event at 51.41.
You can watch him compete starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 24.
Mona McSharry - Team Ireland Swimming (100m & 200m Breaststroke)
FINAL: Mona McSharry represented Ireland in the 100m Breaststroke finals -- the country's first Olympic final appearance in 25 years. McSharry placed 8th in the finals with a time of 1:06.94, behind the likes of Lydia Jacoby and Lilly King who took home both gold and bronze for the United States in the event.
McSharry managed to set a new national record for Ireland in the 200m Breaststroke heats on July 28 with a time of 2:25:08, but that record was unfortunately less than a second short of qualifying for the semifinals in the event.
The 20-year-old UT freshman and Dublin native has already developed world-class speed after proving she was ready for Olympic competition after clocking in a time of 1:06.29 in the 100m Breaststroke in April -- a new record for Ireland.
She holds several Irish records in the breaststroke in the 50m, 100m, and 200m long course, and 50m and 100m short course.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 100m Breaststroke heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 25.
Kira Toussaint - Team Netherlands Swimming (100m Backstroke)
FINAL: Kira Toussaint finished 7th overall in the 100m Backstroke finals with a time of 59.11 for Team Netherlands, with Australia's Kaylee McKeown taking home gold Monday night in the event.
"Kira Toussaint posts a time of 59.11 to finish seventh in the 100-meter backstroke, capping a strong showing for the Lady Vol in her second Summer Games!" Tennessee Swimming said.
Toussaint is returning to the Olympics for a second time after competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. During her two years at the University of Tennessee, Toussaint earned 7 All-America honors and became the first woman in Tennessee history to ever compete at the Olympics while still being an active member of UT's program.
In 2020, she broke the world record for the 50m backstroke with a time of 25.6 seconds.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 100m Backstroke heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 25.
Ellen Walshe - Team Ireland Swimming (200m Individual Medley, 100m Butterfly)
FINAL: Walshe led the way in Heat 2 of the 100-meter butterfly, however she completed the race in 59:53 seconds, falling short of qualifying her for the semifinals in the event.
In the 200m IM, Walshe ended up ranking 19 out of 27 swimmers with a time of 2:13:34, a little more than a second shy of qualifying in the event.
Walshe is an incoming freshman at UT, but before she swims for the Vols -- she's going to get a chance to swim for Ireland in the Olympics!
Walshe broke the Irish national record in the 200m Individual Medley with a time of 2:21.02 to qualify for Tokyo.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 200m IM heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 26.
Lyubomir Epitropov - Team Bulgaria (100m & 200m Breaststroke)
FINAL: Epitropov competed in the 100-meter breaststroke heat. He finished the race in 1:00.71, falling short of qualifying by roughly a second.
In the 200m breaststroke, he was able to advance to semifinals, but came up short of qualifying for the medal event by about a second and a half with a time of 2:10.33.
UT junior Epitropov is making his debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 200m Breaststroke.
He currently holds the school record in the event with a time of 1:52.69. Epitropov won the gold in the event at the 2021 SEC Championships to secure his first title.
You can watch him compete in the Men's 200m Breaststroke starting at 7 p.m JST on July 27.
Tess Cieplucha - Team Canada Swimming (400m Individual Medley)
FINAL: Cieplucha finished the 400-meter Individual Medley heat in 4:44:54, falling short of qualifying by about 7 seconds.
Ceiplucha, a VFL and native of Toronto, is heading to the Olympics for the first time.
She broke a few records during her senior year at UT, lowering her own Tennessee record for the fastest time in the 400m IM to 4:03.06. She was a member of the Lady Vols' first-ever SEC Championship team in 2019-20, and won her first individual gold medal in the 400m IM at the SEC Meet with a time of 4:01.88 -- setting the program's school record time.
She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 400m Individual Medley heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 24.
Wes Kitts - Team USA Weightlifting (Men's 109kg)
FINAL: Wes Kitts set a new American record during his Olympic debut in the snatch with a lift of 177kg, but that unfortunately would not be enough to lift him to a medal with a 213kg clean and jerk.
The 31-year-old Knoxville weightlifter is a Halls High School graduate and Austin Peay State University alum. He's making his Olympics debut in Tokyo.
Kitts is a three-times Pan American Champion and holds two US records for snatch (176kg) and clean and jerk (223kg) for a personal best of 399kg total.
Kara Lawson - Team USA Basketball (Women's 3x3 Coach)
FINAL: Team USA is coming home with the gold medal in the first-ever Women's 3x3 basketball competition!
LVFL Kara Lawson led the talented women's team to an 18-15 victory Wednesday against the Russian Olympic Committee's team in the gold medal match.
Coach Lawson is a familiar face for Lady Vol basketball fans and will be taking her world-class experience to Tokyo in her first-ever 3x3 competition at the Olympics.
Lawson is not a stranger to Olympic competition. After earning the gold in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics on the women's team, she's hoping to do the same leading Team USA's Women's 3x3 Basketball team in Tokyo.
“One of the great lessons I learned from Coach Pat Summitt was how hard you have to compete,” she said. “She taught you the lesson and then pushed you to be able to fully understand it so that you could be a master at it when you left. That’s what great teachers do.”
The Olympic 3x3 basketball competition is set to kick off Saturday, July 24 in Tokyo.
When she's not coaching, she will also be joining NBC Olympics as a basketball analyst.
Tennys Sandgren - Team USA Tennis (Singles and Doubles)
FINAL: VFL Tennys Sandgren and his teammate Austin Krajicek competed in the bronze medal match in men's tennis doubles, but fell to New Zealand.
In singles, Sandgren was knocked out in the first round against Spain's
Gallatin, Tennessee native and VFL Tennys Sandgren is competing in his first Olympics for Team USA.
Tennys came to Rocky Top as the No. 1 recruit in the country. He was named a NCAA Singles semifinalist in 2011 and earned ITA All-America honors.
You can watch him when Tennis matchups begin on July 24.
Hannah Wilkinson - Team New Zealand Soccer
FINAL: Team New Zealand put up a valiant effort, but did not advance past the first round of the Women's tournament after falling to Sweden, the U.S., and Australia.
VFL Hannah Wilkinson is heading back to the Summer Olympics for the third time as a striker for Team New Zealand.
Her accolades during her time with the Vols are almost too long to list in one place -- having finished her college career third in scoring, second in career goals, eighth in assists, and tied for third in program history with 11 game-winning goals.
She joined Tennessee as a sophomore in 2012 and stayed on through 2016 as a graduate student -- leading the SEC with eight goals and 17 points in conference play.
The striker first made her country's Olympic Team in 2012 for the London games while she was a freshman at UT as well as in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Rhian Wilkinson - Team Great Britain Soccer (Assistant Manager)
FINAL: The Great Britain women's team would be eliminated in quarterfinals versus Australia 3-4 during a knockout match.
Canadian VFL and two-time Olympic bronze-medalist Rhian Wilkinson is hoping to help lead England to Olympic glory as an assistant manager for the women's team.
During her time at UT, she was chosen the Lady Vols' most valuable player of 2002. She would later become one of Canada's most ironclad players, competing in three Olympics. Team Canada would go on to win bronze in 2012 and 2016.