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Monday, August 4, 2008

Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2008

Forever Olympians: IU ties to the Olympic Games

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Aug. 4, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind -- Mike Westphal, Indiana University assistant swimming coach, will be watching the 2008 Olympic Games live in Beijing. As a member of the Ukrainian Olympic Swimming Staff, he has the unique opportunity of coaching two IU swimmers -- Sergey Fesenko, an IU graduate who is still training at IU, and Kate Zubkova, a junior on the swim team -- as they compete under the Ukrainian flag. Like so many others, going to the Olympics has always been a dream of Westphal's.

"To have the dream come true is amazing and to be a member of the coaching staff is a real honor," Westphal said. "I can't wait to watch the Olympics live and see swimmers from IU compete in the games."

Joining Westphal in Beijing as a member of the USA Diving Team will be Jeff Huber, diving coach for IU. A seven-time national coach of the year, this will be Huber's third time coaching for the U.S. at the Olympics. He was on staff at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Like Westphal, Huber will be coaching one of IU's own -- Christina Loukas.

"It is both exciting and an honor to be a part of the IU Olympic tradition," Huber said. "We have had IU divers in the Olympic Games since 1964. Christina and I are excited to be representing IU and the USA and we are pointing toward having her achieve her lifetime best score at the Games."

Loukas, a senior in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPER), will compete in the 3-meter springboard in Beijing after winning the top spot in commanding form at the U.S. Olympic diving trials earlier this summer. This will be her first Olympic Games.

"The moment I found out I won the Olympic trials I was so overwhelmed with emotion," Loukas said. "I had tears of joy when I realized I had finally done it. I just kept thinking to myself, 'I am forever an Olympian now,' which is just crazy for me to think about. I think about all the amazing Olympic athletes who are classified as the best in the world and it is such an honor to be part of that now."

Loukas finished fourth at the World Cup in Beijing in February. She finished a dominating 89.25 points ahead of her closest competitor in the U.S. Olympic trials. More recently, she successfully defended her one-meter springboard title at the 2008 Kaiser Permanente National Diving Championships in California. To read more about Loukas, visit

While Huber and Westphal are busy coaching and Loukas is diving, Jay Kincaid, senior director and producer for WTIU, will be occupying his time as director for NBC Olympics. This is Kincaid's tenth Olympics. He has won six national Emmy awards for his coverage. Kincaid is a Bloomington native and 1982 telecommunications graduate. He will be joined by Jason Pear, WTIU chief videographer and editor.

Below are more IU students and alums Olympic bound. To read more, visit

David Boudia

Boudia, an alumnus of the Indiana University High School, is a diver who competed in the 10-meter synchronized platform competition on Aug. 11. He will compete in the 10-meter individual platform competition on Aug. 22-23. Boudia is considered to be a top medal contender, performing from one of the world's most difficult dive lists. His synchronized partner, Thomas Finchum, is also an IU High School student. IU High School is part of IU's School of Continuing Studies.

Thomas Finchum

Finchum, an IU High School student, has been considered one of the top diving competitors for several years, after nearly making the Olympics team in 2004 when he was just 14. He competed with Boudia in the 10-meter synchronized platform competition on Aug. 11 and will compete again individually in the 10-meter platform competition on Aug. 22-23.

Kayla Bashore

Bashore played field hockey at IU from 2001-2005. She has the unique honor of being the first of 174 Olympians from IU to play field hockey for the U.S. National team. She was named Big Ten Player of the year as a senior and led Indiana to its first NCAA Tournament during her senior year. This is her first time competing in the Olympics.

Mariangee Bogado

Former IU softball pitcher Mariangee will make her first Olympic appearance when she pitches for Venezuela in the tournament opener against the U.S. The softball team is the first-ever female team to qualify for the Olympics from Venezuela. During her senior season at IU, she struck out 299 batters, the second most in a single season in IU history.

Sergiy Fesenko

Fesenko,a student and IU swimmer from 2004-2006, will make his second Olympic appearance for the Ukraine when he competes in the 400 and 1500 freestyle. He competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. During his time at IU, Fesenko was a five-time NCAA All-American. He was also a gold medalist in the 800-yard freestyle at the 2005 Ukrainian National Championships.

David Neville

Neville was a member of the IU track and field team from 2003-2005. During his three years at IU, he was a five-time All-American and won four Big Ten championships. He holds IU's indoor records in the 200 meter dash, 400 meter dash, as well as the 4x400 meter relay and the distance medley relay. As an undergraduate student at the Jacobs School of Music, Neville was also a percussionist and a student teacher at Jackson Creek Middle School. Neville earned his spot at the 2008 Olympics by finishing behind Olympic gold-medalist Jeremy Wariner and Olympic silver-medalist LeShawn Merritt in Beijing when he finished third in the 400 meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Trials on July 3. This is his first Olympic Games.

Aarik Wilson

Wilson, an IU track and field athlete from 2002-2005, secured his spot on the 2008 US Olympic team when he won the triple jump finals on July 6 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. His jump was 20 centimeters better than the second-place jump. During his four years at IU, Wilson was named an All-American ten times. He's won ten Big Ten championships and holds the IU outdoor record in the triple jump and indoor records in the long jump and triple jump.

Kate Zubkova

An IU junior and five-time NCAA All-American, Zubkova is making her second Olympic Games appearance for Ukraine after competing in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She is the IU record holder in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard butterfly, 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter backstroke and 100-meter butterfly. Zubkova was the 2008 Big Ten Champion in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke as well as being the Big Ten record holder in the these events.

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