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One Year Away: Summer Olympic Athletes With Utah Ties

Jake Gibb (USA) celebrates during the Beach Volley Rome World Tour Finals Main Draw Pool A match at the Foro Italico in Rome, Italy on September 5, 2019 (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 2020 Summer Olympic Games were postponed to summer of 2021 in Tokyo, Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic. Which means athletes that waited four years to compete at the highest level will have to wait one more year.

July 23, 2020 marks one year to the date until the Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin in 2021.

Here are the Summer Olympic athletes that have ties to the state of Utah.

Jake Gibb

Gibb is a Beach Volleyball Olympic veteran from Bountiful, Utah. He made his Olympic debut in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China and was patterned with Sean Rosenthal where they reached the quarterfinals before losing to Brazilian duo Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego. In London in 2012, they finished fifth after falling to the Latvian team.

After taking first place in the FIVB Tour, the duo decided to part ways. Gibb teamed up with Casey Patterson from 2013-16. In 2017, Gibb split with Patterson and partnered with Taylor Crabb. Gibb is still searching for his first Olympic gold medal.

Gibb currently resides in Huntington Beach, California.

Tayler Wiles

Tayler Wiles is a racing cyclist from Murray, Utah and currently rides for UCI Women’s WorldTeam Trek-Segafredo. Wiles was originally a soccer player until she attended the University of Utah as a pre-medical student at age 18. She started cycling when she was a sophomore in 2008.

Wiles finished third overall in the 2012 Tour Cycliste Feminin International de I’Ardeche. In 2014, Wiles finished in the top two in three events. In 2016, she recorded top 10 finishes in six events.

In 2020, she finished third in Race Torquay in Australia.

Wiles currently resides in Fairfax, California.

Maka Unufe

Unufe is a rugby player from Chula Vista, California. Unufe considers Provo, Utah his hometown. After playing wide receiver at Provo High School, Unufe moved over to Rugby where he starred for the Utah Warriors at the Club 7s Nationals in August 2011. After a strong performance which included a nomination to the All-Tournament team, Unufe was selected to play at the National All-Star Championships.

He made his international debut as a 19-year-old with the United States National Team playing as a wing in the 2011 Pan American games in October 2011. The U.S. coach described Unufe as a “star in the making.” He was recognized in a Ruby magazine as the 2011 Men’s Breakout Player of the Year.

Unufe was named to the World Rugby’s Dream Team for the 2015 Wellington Sevens tournament. After a strong showing in that tournament, he played for the United States Rugby team in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the U.S. finished in ninth place.

Unufe currently resides in Chula Vista, California.

Jared Ward

BYU alum Jared Ward is a Track & Field athlete that was born in Layton, Utah. He considers Kaysville, Utah his hometown. From 2013-20, Ward has competed in 16 marathons. He finished 2nd in the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014, while collecting a pair of third place finishes in the Los Angeles Marathon and the U.S. Olympic Trials in Los Angeles in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

At the National Championships, Ward has competed in 8 events from 2015-18. He took second in the Half Marathon Championships in 2015 while getting three straight first place awards in the Marathon Championships, USA 25 km Championships and USA 20 km Championships, all in 2015. Ward placed third in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and second in the USA 25 km Championships.

Ward currently resides in Provo, Utah.

Potential Olympic Basketball Players

In the 2019 FIBA Baseball World Cup teams, locals were well represented in those games. Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell played for the United States as they finished seventh in the tournament but did qualify for the Summer Olympic Games. Former Utah Utes and current Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was initially on the roster with the U.S. before he suffered an injury and withdrew from competition.

Jazz forward Joe Ingles is a regular for the Australian National Team as they qualified for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert is a mainstay with the French National Team. They also qualified for the Olympics.

 

Potential Olympic Soccer Players

The state of Utah has two soccer clubs that could feed talent to the Olympics. The United State’s U-23 men’s team is coached by former Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis. Current RSL players that could make the Olympic team includes Justen Glad, Aaron Herrera, Corey Baird and David Ochoa. Those four players made the 2020 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying roster. Park City, Utah native Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo was also on that roster before the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Saucedo currently plays professionally in Mexico.

On the women’s side, Utah Royals FC has a ton of players that have Olympic experience. For the United States, Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara have appeared in World Cups and contributed to the U.S. taking home championships. Katie Bowen with New Zealand, Rachel Corsie with Scotland, Diana Matheson and Desiree Scott with Canada will all have a shot at competing in the Olympics.

All of the Summer Olympic action can be seen on KSL 5 TV.