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17 athletes to watch this Olympic season who have ties to Baton Rouge

This story has been updated to remove Konnor McClain. The LSU gymnast suffered an Achilles injury and will no longer compete at Olympic Team Trials, according to news reports. 


In 225‘s June issue, we profiled four Baton Rouge athletes—Vernon Norwood, Maggie Mac Neil, Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss—who are set on competing at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games next month. And the Capital Region, in large part thanks to LSU, is home to numerous other sports stars ready to represent their country on the biggest stage in their games. 

From pole vaulters to basketball players, hailing from Norway to right here in south Louisiana, here’s who to watch this Olympic season with ties to Baton Rouge.

Did we miss your favorite local athlete? Let us know by emailing [email protected].


 

Track & Field

Mondo Duplantis. Courtesy Brennan Robideaux

Armand “Mondo” Duplantis

Country: Sweden

The reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder grew up in Lafayette and pole-vaulted for LSU in 2019. The big question: Will he break the world record a ninth time in Paris this summer?

Sha’Carri Richardson

Country: USA

The stylish sprinter who ran for LSU in 2019 had hopes to uproot Jamaica’s claim on the 100-meter dash in Tokyo, but instead made headlines after being disqualified for testing positive for THC. However, the World Champion is expected to be a serious contender in 2024. A recent May win in the 100-meter gave her Olympic dreams a “jolt,” according to The Athletic.

Aleia Hobbs

Country: USA

The New Orleans native who ran for LSU from 2015-2018 added a silver medal to her stacked resume in Tokyo, competing on Team USA’s 4×100-meter relay. She aims to race again in Paris.  

Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake 

Country: Great Britain 

The 200-meter specialist and former LSU trackster qualified for the Paris Games last month. Mitchell-Blake will be on the hunt for a medal again after the 2020 Olympic gold was stripped from Team GB when teammate CJ Ujah was found guilty of doping. 

Ella Onojuvwevwo

Country: Nigeria
LSU’s quarter-mile specialist automatically qualified for the Olympic Games at the SEC Outdoor Championships in May. In doing so she also broke LSU’s 27-year-old record in the event. She’s also qualified to run in Nigeria’s mixed 4x400m relay in Paris.

Favour Ofili

Country: Nigeria
The LSU alumna punched her ticket Paris after winning the 200-meter at an event held at the University of Florida in April. The six-time SEC champion will also run in the women’s 4×100-meter relay for Nigeria.

Tima Godbless

Country: Nigeria
The LSU sophomore, who competed in the Tokyo Games, will return to the Olympics this summer and race with LSU teammate Ofili on Nigeria’s 4×100-meter relay. She’ll also run the individual 100-meter.

Shakeem McKay

Country: Trinidad and Tobago
The LSU sprinter earned himself and his teammates a spot at the Olympic Games in the 4×400-meter relay earlier this month at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas.


Gymnastics 

Aleah Finnegan 

Country: Philippines 

The incoming LSU senior met several major athletic goals in the 2023-24 season. She helped the Tigers win their first-ever NCAA championship in gymnastics and also landed a spot at the Olympics, making her the first female gymnast to represent the Philippines in Olympic history. 


Swimming

Brooks Curry celebrates after winning the men’s 200-meter freestyle at the FINA Swimming World Cup meet in Toronto. Photo by Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP Images.

Brooks Curry

Country: USA

The former LSU sprint freestyler came out of nowhere to land a spot on Team USA at the last Olympic Games and ultimately won a gold medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. The next year he went on to win LSU its first men’s swimming NCAA titles in years in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. He’ll be looking to add to his medal count this summer. 

Jere Hribar

Country: Croatia 

Just off his freshman year at LSU, the 20-year-old Croatian freestyler qualified to represent his country at the Olympic Games this April. He’s expected to compete in the 50-yard freestyle in Paris. 

Jovan Lekic

Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Another incoming sophomore, the middle-distance freestyler aims to qualify for the Olympic Games at the European Aquatics Championships this month. His hopes are set on racing in the 400- and 200-yard freestyle events. 

Mitch Mason 

Country: USA 

The U.S. National Team member and recent LSU grad will compete at U.S. team trials this month. He’ll swim the 100-meter breaststroke, an event he took home a fifth-place finish in at the USA National Championships last summer. 


Other sports

Hailey Van Lith. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via AP Images

Hailey Van Lith

Country: USA

The former LSU women’s basketball star aims to rep Team USA in the 3×3 Women’s Basketball competition in Paris. Van Lith already won gold for her country at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup last year and was training for her Olympic debut this spring, according to the Associated Press.

Duop Reath 

Country: Australia

The 6-foot-9-inch former LSU forward will play for Team Australia again in Paris. He helped the Aussies earn a bronze medal in Tokyo and currently plays in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Helle Tuxen

Country: Norway

One of Europe’s top divers, this recent LSU grad hopes to compete on the 3-meter boards in Paris.

Michael Venus 

Country: New Zealand

Teams for the men’s tennis events in Paris will be announced this month after a complicated qualification process, and the former LSU tennis player aims to be among those selected. He and doubles partner Marcus Daniell took home a somewhat unexpected bronze medal in Tokyo. It was New Zealand’s first Olympic tennis medal since 1912.


How it works


While some athletes have known they will represent Team USA for months, many of the Summer Olympics’ biggest sports will decide on their 2024 teams at U.S. Olympic Trials events in June. Athletes are named to the team based on their performance at these competitions. Other countries, like Canada, follow a similar process. Here’s what’s happening in the coming weeks.

U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials: June 15-23, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana

U.S. Olympic Diving Trials: June 17-23 in Knoxville, Tennessee

U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials: June 21-30 in Eugene, Oregon

U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials: June 27-30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota