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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Pepperdine Students and Alumni Make Waves at the 2012 London Olympics

• University Produces a Wealth of Talent and Experience for Local Participants

BY KAYLA BROWN

As the 2012 Olympic Games commence in London, and thousands of athletes, coaches, and onlookers travel from around the world to compete in this historic event, an elite twelve proudly represent the Malibu and Pepperdine community.
This summer, eight current and former Pepperdine athletes will compete on behalf of their respective countries, while four Pepperdine alum student-athletes and staff will aid their U.S National Teams as coaches.
These eight athletes will be the third-most that have ever represented Pepperdine at the Olympics. “Eleven Pepperdine-affiliated athletes and coaches participated in the Games in 1988, as well as nine in 1984” according to a Pepperdine press release.
Since 1956, when Pepperdine made their first Olympic appearance, over 40 Wave athletes and coaches have participated in the Games and have earned a total of “seven gold medals, eight silver medals and three bronze medals.” The first to win gold was Pepperdine alum Craig Buck, who competed on the U.S. men’s volleyball team at the 1984 Los Angeles games. The most recent gold medal was attained at the last Olympic Games, in 2008, by Sean Rooney and the U.S. men’s volleyball team he helped play to victory. Considering the reputable history of the current twelve at the games this year, the odds of bringing back more medals to Malibu is in their favor.
With a solid representation of the Malibu community at the games this year, the Malibu Surfside News puts a spotlight on each player and coach:
Yakhouba Diawara, the 6' 7" power forward, was born in Paris, France and has returned to his native ground to make his first Olympic appearance on France’s men’s basketball team. Diawara was placed on Pepperdine’s All-WCC first team in 2004 and graduated in 2005. The Pepperdine alum played 10 minutes in his first Olympic game, U.S.A versus France, on July 29, but the U.S. triumphed over France with the score of 98-71, according to the official Olympic Games website.
Canadian women’s basketball has also welcomed Pepperdine alum, Miranda Ayim. Ayim is a 6' 0" power forward from Chatham, Canada who graduated from Pepperdine in 2010 with a degree in Public Relations. She has extensive academic awards from her career at Pepperdine as well as three All-WCC first teamer awards. This is not only her first time competing in the Olympics, but is also the Universities first time having an athlete represent in the sport of women’s basketball.
Roxanne Barker is a current senior studying Biology at Pepperdine and will be competing in the games for the first time on South Africa’s women’s soccer team as goalkeeper. She has been named to the All-WCC second team twice and honorable mention once. She has already broken university records by being the first athlete to represent women’s soccer at the Olympic level.
From the Pepperdine class of 1998, Robert Lindstedt, is also making his first Olympic appearance in the men’s doubles and possibly mixed doubles for Sweden’s men’s tennis team. During his only season at Pepperdine, Lindstedt reached the “championship match of the 1998 NCAA men’s doubles tournament.” Among his ongoing list of accolades is his number 10 ranking in the world in doubles, and his ongoing three-year consecutive record of qualifying for the Wimbledon finals in men’s tennis. 
One of the more publicized athletes at the Olympics this year is current junior, Sara Attar. This is Attar’s first time attending the Olympics, but this great accomplishment is merged with an even greater honor. Attar is one of the first two female athletes to ever compete at the Games for Saudi Arabia.
 After extensive negotiations, the International Olympic Committee announced on July 12 that Saudi Arabia would compete in this years Olympics. Attar shared, “It’s such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport(s)” according to an IOC press release. She also makes Pepperdine history by being the second athlete to compete in track and field at the Olympics since 1972. Attar will run the 800 meters for the Saudi women’s track team.
The United States men’s volleyball team welcomes Pepperdine alum, Sean Rooney as an outside hitter once again this season. The 6' 9" powerhouse graduated in 2005 with a degree in business administration. But Rooney means business on the court as well; winning a national championship with the Waves in 2005, revered as the 2005 AVCA National Player of the Year, and placed as an All-American four times, “becoming just the seventh male to accomplish the feat” according to the Olympic website. He was also named USA Volleyball’s Male Player of the Year in 2009. Rooney aided the U.S. men’s volleyball Olympic team to a gold medal victory in the 2008 games.
Merrill Moses, graduating class of 1998, and Jesse Smith, class of 2006, join the U.S. men’s water polo team. This will be Moses’ second Olympic appearance and Smith’s third. Moses, the Thousand Oaks resident, is noted as “one of the best goalkeepers in the world”, according the Olympic website. He helped lead the waves to the 1997 NCAA championship where he was deemed tri-MVP in addition to his three-time All-American titles.
Smith was also a three-time All-American at Pepperdine, and earned first-team honors in 2004; understandably why he is considered to be “one of water polo’s most naturally gifted athletes” states the  Olympic website. Both Moses and Smith won silver medals with the 2008 U.S. water polo Olympic team.
But the admirable Malibu contributions to the Olympic Games this year do not cease with the athletes, an astounding four coaches are also proudly representing the city.
Future Pepperdine men’s water polo coach Terry Schroeder is the head coach of the United States men’s water polo team once again this year; following his success in 2008 when he led the U.S to a silver medal. He is a four-time Olympian player and has won two silver medals in 1984 and 1988.
Current Pepperdine men’s volleyball coach, Marv Dunphy, will be making his sixth Olympic appearance this year as the U.S. women’s volleyball team consultant coach. In 1998, he led the men’s team to a gold medal as head coach, and in 2008 aided the men’s team once again to gold medal honors as a consultant coach.
Gary Soto, class of 1978, is the assistant coach for the U.S. men’s volleyball team for the third time. His coaching talents have led teams to gold medals in 1988 and bronze in 1992. Marcio Sicoli is an assistant coach for the Pepperdine women’s volleyball team and is the beach coach for gold medal winners, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
As day four of the 2012 London Olympic Games comes to an end, the U.S. has won 9 gold, 8 silver, and 6 bronze medals. Time will only tell how much the Pepperdine waves contribute to our nation’s and its competitors medal success. The News wishes the very best to every competitor as they each strive for the gold.
For a select schedule of events highlighting the Pepperdine athletes and their respective games visit: http://www.pepperdinesports.com/genrel/071212aad.html. For more information on the 2012 Olympics, such as local listings, visit: http: //www.nbcolympics.com/get-local/tvlistings.html.

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