Profiling Four Local Athletes Competing in the
Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo
Event: Swimming | Team: USA
Having missed a medal by a mere 1.2 seconds in Brazil five years ago, Jordan is hoping to make amends in his second Olympics. With the coronvirus pandemic canceling the Summer Games last year, the 27-year-old who grew up near the Getty Villa in Sunset Mesa who began swimming at the Palisades-Malibu YMCA and was a Junior Lifeguard at Will Rogers State Beach has had an extra 12 months to prepare for the 10,000-meter Open Water Race. Since the event debuted in Beijing in 2008, no American man has earned an Olympic Open Water medal. Wilimovsky, who went to Malibu High, can make history next Thursday in a field of 25-30 swimmers at Odaiba Marine Park.
Jordan took fifth in the Open Water swim at Copacabana Beach in 2016, 1.2 seconds out of a bronze medal. Three days earlier, in the pool, he placed fourth in the 1,500-meter event, coming within 4.17 seconds of a spot on the podium in Rio. In July 2019 he became the first U.S. male to qualify for Tokyo when he placed fifth at the 10K World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea—a race he led with 600 meters left.
Wilimovsky, a four-time All-American at Northwestern University, earned gold and silver in the 10K at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships while training with Team Santa Monica.
Event: Soccer | Team: New Zealand
The pride of St. Matthew’s is celebrating her trip to the Olympics—all as a defender for the Football Ferns, the New Zealand women’s national soccer team. As she did in her previous three Olympiads, Ali played every minute of every game at left back but the Ferns lost to Australia 2-1, the United States 6-1 and Sweden 2-0 and failed to advance out of the Group Stage. Knockout rounds start Friday and the gold medal game is August 5 in Tokyo.
The 33-year-old Riley grew up on Kagawa in the Alphabet Streets and has been New Zealand’s captain since the 2017 Cyprus Cup. She also plays for the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League and has spent the past year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, preparing for Tokyo.
She has played 138 games for New Zealand since her international debut versus Australia in 2007. Her father John is from New Zealand and along with him and her mom Bev Lowe she has run the Palisades Will Rogers race on the Fourth of July numerous times. She was a multi-sport star at St. Matthew’s, an All-CIF striker at Harvard-Westlake High and an All-American at Stanford.
Ali first played in the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing. Four years later in London she helped the Ferns notch their first Olympic win versus Cameroon. In 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the Ferns beat Colombia but did not advance. Riley has played in the last four FIFA Women’s World Cups.
Event: Fencing | Team: USA
A Palisades High graduate, Nick has already won two individual NCAA titles and two team championships at the University of Notre Dame and hopes to do the same on the world stage.
Itkin has quickly emerged as one of Team USA’s top foil fencers, having taken first place at the Junior Worlds in 2018, then taking the senior circuit by storm with a bronze medal in Bonn, Germany later that year, becoming the first American fencer to win individual junior world, USA Fencing Division I and NCAA championship titles in the same season. Now with three World Cup medals as a senior, including gold in in Paris, Itkin is participating in his first Olympic Games.
In 2017, Nick was one of Palisades High’s Exceptional Athlete Award winners after a stellar senior season in which he rose to No. 6 in the United States. He is coached by his father Michael, a former elite fencer from Ukraine. His mother Tatyana Itkina was a member of Ukraine’s rhythmic gymnastics team and his older sister Julia was on the USA national rhythmic gymnastics team.
The 21-year-old representing Los Angeles International Fencing Club won his first individual match on Monday, outdueling Russian Anton Borodachev, 15-11, before losing his second bout, 15-13, to Anton’s twin brother Kirill Borodachev. The men’s foil team competition, in which Itkin is also competing, takes place Sunday, Aug. 1 at Makuhari Messe Event Hall. Other Americans in the men’s foil discipline are Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt and Race Imboden.
Event: Water Polo | Team: USA
Fittingly, Johnny is making his first Olympic appearance in his mom Mimi’s native country and the bombastic 24-year-old surfer from the Highlands hopes to make her proud. As fierce a competitor as anyone in the pool, he showed why last Sunday in the USA’s preliminary round game against Japan when he scored the clinching goal in a 15-13 victory. He added three goals in Tuesday’s 20-3 Group A triumph over South Africa. The United States continues group play today versus Italy, Saturday versus Hungary and Monday versus Greece.
Hooper’s father Gary won 11 tournaments and had over 50 Top 5 finishes on the pro beach volleyball tour from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and Johnny has inherited that competitive drive. He went to Village School through sixth grade, then attended Harvard-Westlake High before receiving a full-ride scholarship to UC Berkeley, graduating last year from the Hass School of Business. The four-time All-American is one of the Bears’ all-time scoring leaders, racking up 245 goals and leading them to the NCAA championship in 2016.
Johnny tallied six goals at the FINA World League Super Final in Athens earlier this year after pacing Team USA with 24 goals at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima and 14 goals at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju. He led Premier Water Polo Club to four Junior Olympic titles and currently plays for Palaio Faliro in the A1 Ethniki League in Greece.
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