University of Arizona-affiliated athletes excelled over the weekend at the 2012 Olympic Games, with student-athlete Brigetta Barrett winning a silver medal in the high jump, and former Wildcat Andre Iguodala and his U.S. basketball teammates taking home the gold medal for the second-straight Olympiad.
Barrett, a senior-to-be, won the silver medal in the high jump competition with a personal-best clearance of 6-8. That mark is the best ever by a collegiate female in the high jump. The previous mark was also held by Barrett, when she cleared 6-7 at the U.S. Olympic Trials on July 1.
Since she did not post the mark during the collegiate season, it does not count as the collegiate record. She is the first Arizona track and field athlete to earn a medal in the Olympics since Michael Bates and Sandra Farmer-Patrick in 1992. Barrett is the only Wildcat to ever medal in the women’s high jump.
“I’m definitely thankful I have the medal, but it is really what comes with the medal that means a lot,” Barrett said. “I know that God has brought me so far, and I know where I started, so to be able to stand here and look back on the journey, that is what it really means for me. My mom is in the stands smiling and healthy, so it’s great.”
Fellow American Chaunte Lowe, a friend and mentor to Barrett, took sixth place in the competition with a clearance of 6-5.5. Lowe had very kind words after the competition regarding the outcome.
“My performance was not great, but I am really proud of Brigetta,” Lowe said. “She is a really great talent, and I am glad that she was able to stay poised on this type of a stage.”
The U.S. men's basketball team beat Spain in a tightly contested match, winning by a score of 107-100. Iguodala registered 2:45 minutes of action and snatched one rebound. Iguodala also committed two fouls and had one turnover. He did not record a shot attempt.
The USA’s finish gives Arizona its first-ever Olympic gold medal in basketball and its second medal in the sport overall. Richard Jefferson earned a bronze medal for the USA in 2004.
Iguodala, who completed his eighth season in the National Basketball Association with the Philadelphia 76ers, made his second consecutive appearance on a USA Basketball senior national team roster, as he also was a part of the gold-medal-winning 2010 FIBA World Championship squad.
He is the third former Wildcat to appear in the Olympic Games, and the second to represent the United States. In addition to Jefferson (1998-2001), Robertas Javtokas (1999-2000) was a member of the Lithuanian Olympic team in 2004 and 2008.
An Arizona letterwinner for two seasons (2002-04), he averaged 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 62 collegiate appearances (34 starts). As a sophomore in 2003-04, he averaged 12.9 points per game and led the team in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and assists (4.9 apg). Iguodala was a first-team all-Pac-10 selection in 2004 and the ninth pick of the first round of the NBA Draft that season by Philadelphia.
Iguodala’s gold medal boosted to four the number of medals won at the 2012 London Olympics by current or former Arizona athletes. He joins Alyssa Anderson (gold/women’s swimming), Brigetta Barrett (silver/women’s track and field) and Nick Thoman (silver/men’s swimming).
His gold medal also qualifies Iguodala for induction into Arizona’s Ring of Honor.
UA volunteer assistant coach Bernard Lagat took fourth place in the men’s 5,000-meter race, missing a medal by .63 seconds. He tripped and lost his balance around the last turn, taking away most of his momentum. He still managed to finish strong, clocking a time of 13:42.99.
“I was very confident,” Lagat said. “I was just trying to go as I hard as I could. It would have been better to have been on the podium. The fourth spot is tough but I have been the most blessed person in my career.”
In the men's mountain bike cross country final, Arizona alumnus Todd Wells earned a 10th-place finish, clocking a time of 1:31:28.
Fomer Wildcat Abdi Abdirahman competed in the marathon, but because of an injury he could not finish the race. Abdirahman ran with the lead pack for the first 5km before fading to 29th at the 15km mark.
"I was feeling good during the race. I was in good position and feeling really good. I thought I was going to make a move at 13 miles, but something happened. There was just this pop in my knee. I don’t know what it is, but it just popped when we turned, and I tried to run a couple of more miles, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was just painful. There was no warning," Abdirahman said.
“It was the hardest thing for me to do, but at the same time I didn’t want to push it and limp in dead last. That’s not what I was here for. The best thing for me was to shut it down.”