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Team Idaho: five athletes representing five countries in Tokyo Olympics have Gem State background

Bronco, Vandal, and LCSC Warrior alums will compete on the track; an equestrian with Sun Valley ties is in her second Olympics.

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: The video above originally aired on July 16, 2021 - one week before the Opening Ceremony. Also, earlier versions of this story did not include runner Sam Atkin, a Lewis-Clark State alumnus and cross country coach who is competing for Great Britain.

A vein of Olympic gold runs through the Gem State.

Kristin Armstrong of Boise is the most-decorated woman in Olympic cycling history, with gold medals from the time trials in Beijing, London and Rio.

But Idaho's storied Olympic heritage goes back much further.

Gretchen Fraser of Sun Valley was the first American to win gold in alpine skiing back in 1948.

Picabo Street, Kaitlyn Farrington, Stacy Dragila and Dan O'Brien also are among those who've won gold, and have also called Idaho home.

Paralympic cycling champion and alpine skiing multi-medalist Muffy Davis and high jumper Dick Fosbury -- whose "flop" was a solid-gold hit in 1968, and changed the sport forever -- are active community members in the Wood River Valley, and have served in the Idaho Legislature during their post-Olympic lives.

Then there are the Idaho Olympians who didn't quite make the top of the podium, but still gave us unforgettable moments. Immediately coming to mind is the late freestyle skier Jeret "Speedy" Peterson. He made three U.S. Olympic teams, including Vancouver 2010, where he pulled off his signature "Hurricane" trick and won silver. After watching Peterson do five twists and three flips while airborne for just three seconds before making a blind landing -- something none of his competitors dared to even attempt -- apparently the judges didn't like the landing.

A seemingly countless number of Olympic alpine and cross country skiers have trained at Sun Valley, but McCall also has a world-class heritage in those sports. For one, U.S. National Ski Hall of Famer Corey Engen was co-captain of the U.S. cross country ski team at St. Moritz in 1948.

The Tokyo 2020 (postponed, but not renamed) edition of "Team Idaho" includes four runners who competed for three of Idaho's public colleges and universities, and an equestrian rider who's trained for several years in Sun Valley.

Will they strike gold, too? We don't know yet, but right now, we do know their names, and however they finish, they'll be fun to watch.

Jordin Andrade - Track and field

Credit: World Express Sports Management
Boise State alumnus Jordin Andrade is competing in his second Olympics for the nation of Cape Verde.

Representing Cape Verde, Boise State University alumnus Jordin Andrade will run the 400-meter hurdles. The preliminary round is scheduled for July 29.

Tokyo is Andrade's second Olympics. He placed 16th at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and became the first-ever athlete from Cape Verde to run in an Olympic semifinal. While a student-athlete at Boise State, Andrade was a three-time All-American.

Sam Atkin - Track and field

Credit: Lewis-Clark State College

Lewis-Clark State College alum and assistant cross country coach Sam Atkin is competing in the 10,000-meter run for Great Britain. That event is scheduled for Friday, July 30, at 5:30 a.m. It will stream live at this link.

Atkin is the second LCSC alumnus to compete in the Olympics. He graduated from LCSC in 2016 with a degree in business management and sports administration. While a student-athlete for the LCSC Warriors, Atkin won NAIA national championships in indoor and outdoor track, and was national runner-up in cross-country -- all during the 2013-14 season.

Adrienne Lyle

Adrienne Lyle and Wizard

Adrienne Lyle will represent Team USA in the equestrian dressage event. The first round is scheduled for Saturday, July 24.

Lyle is originally from Whidbey Island, Washington, but trains in Sun Valley, where she has worked with equestrian trainer Debbie McDonald for the past 12 years.

Lyle also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, placing 37th in dressage.


Alycia Butterworth

Credit: Alycia Butterworth

University of Idaho alumna Alycia Butterworth will represent Canada in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The preliminary round is scheduled for Saturday, July 31.

Butterworth was born and raised in British Columbia, and is a first-time Olympian. She trained in Boise with Pat McCurry ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but was left off the Canadian team after placing sixth at the trials.

While running for the University of Idaho, Butterworth medaled eight times at the WAC championships, and finished third in the 2015 NCAA Regionals.


Liga Velvere

Credit: Liga Velvere

Liga Velvere, also a University of Idaho alumna, will represent Latvia in the 800-meter run. Velvere is a 13-time national champion in Latvia.

While running for the Idaho Vandals, she won three WAC championships in the 800, and eight overall.

Velvere's first race on the Olympic track is scheduled for Thursday, July 29.

Looking to 2024, and beyond, if new events like rock climbing and skateboarding continue in future Olympics, Idaho's vein of gold may be richer than ever in the decades ahead.

In the meantime, during the Tokyo games, join us online here at KTVB.COM and on TV at KTVB Channel 7 for NBC Olympics coverage through August 8.

Some of the commentators on NBC's broadcast team at the Tokyo Olympics will be familiar to many in Idaho. Boise-based broadcaster Chris Lewis is doing play-by-play for table tennis. Heather Cox, who also lives in Boise, is back reporting on the indoor volleyball beat. Former KTVB sports anchor Kerith Burke was a women's basketball correspondent five years ago in Rio, and returns to the NBC Olympics team as a reporter this year.

Also on KTVB, the Olympic Zone show, hosted by sports director Jay Tust and triple-gold medalist Kristin Armstrong. It airs at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday during the games. 

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