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Tokyo Bound: Meet the athletes connected to East Tennessee who are heading to the Olympics

If you're looking for a few athletes to root for, let us introduce you to some with ties to East Tennessee who've qualified so far!

TOKYO, Japan β€” Editor's Note: This story will be updated as more local athletes qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Several Vols For Life and East Tennessee athletes will soon live out their dreams of competing on the world's largest stage for sports this July at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics begin July 23 on WBIR Channel 10. If you're looking for a few athletes to root for, let us introduce you to some with ties to East Tennessee who've made the cut so far:

Darryl Sullivan - Team USA Track & Field (Men's High Jump)

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.

His 2.33 meter mark currently is tied for third in the world during the 2021 outdoor season.


Erica Bougard - Team USA Track & Field (Women's Heptathlon)

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 on August 4.


Carey McLeod - Team Jamaica Track & Field (Men's Long Jump, Triple Jump)

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 July 31 starting at 7 p.m. JST, and then the men's triple jump qualifiers on August 3 at 9 a.m. JST.

Kendra "Keni" Harrison - Team USA Track & Field (Women's 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. 

You can watch her compete in heats on July 31 at 9 a.m. JST.

Joella Lloyd - Team Antigua and Barbuda Track & Field (100m Dash) 

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 July 30 starting at 9 a.m. JST.

Stamatia Scarvelis -Team Greece Track & Field (Hammer Throw)

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 Sunday, August 1 at 9 a.m. JST.

Cherelle Thompson - Team Trinidad & Tobago (50m Freestyle)

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.

She is scheduled to swim in the Women's 50m Freestyle heats starting at 7 p.m. JST on July 30.

Erika Brown - Team USA Swimming (100m Freestyle)

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.

Michael Houlie - Team South Africa (100m Breaststroke)

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 Breaststroke)

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)

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.

Alex Walsh - Team USA Swimming (200m Individual Medley)

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.

Ellen Walshe - Team Ireland Swimming (200m Individual Medley)

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 (200m Breaststroke)

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)

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)

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.

Kitts is scheduled to lift in the Men's 109kg on August 3 in Japan.

Kara Lawson - Team USA Basketball (Women's 3x3 Coach)

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.   

β€œOne of the great lessons I learned from Coach Pat Summitt was how hard you have to compete,” she said. β€œShe 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. 

RELATED: Former Lady Vols Kara Lawson & Candace Parker won't be playing, but both have roles at the Tokyo Olympics

Tennys Sandgren - Team USA Tennis (Singles)

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. 

Monica Abbott - Team USA Softball

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. 

RELATED: LVFL, Team USA pitcher Monica Abbott focusing on time gained with Olympic postponement

Hannah Wilkinson - Team New Zealand Soccer

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.

She competes with Team New Zealand in the first match against Australia on July 21 in Tokyo.

Rhian Wilkinson - Team Great Britain Soccer (Assistant Manager)

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.

Women's Soccer kicks off in Tokyo for Olympic play on July 30. 

Tjasa Pintar - Team Slovenia Swimming & Diving 

Tjasa Pintar, from Ljubljana, Slovenia, is making her second Olympics appearance at Tokyo.

A recent UT graduate, Pintar earned two SEC gold medals while apart of the UT Swimming and Diving team. 

Pintar played for Team Slovenia in 2016. 

RELATED: Former Lady Vol soccer player makes New Zealand's Olympic team for the 3rd time