Five Olympic athletes with ties to UC Irvine appeared on campus Sept. 9 to pose for pictures, sign autographs and meet fans during an afternoon reception celebrating the achievements of all of the university’s 2008 Olympians.
Men’s water polo players Ryan Bailey, Tim Hutten, Jeff Powers and Rick Merlo, along with UCI graduate student and women’s water polo player Brittany Hayes, were on hand to greet the enthusiastic crowd of students and Anteater supporters who turned out for the Welcome Home Reception at the Student Center Stage.
All five earned silver medals at the 2008 Olympics.
“UCI holds a special place for us,” Powers said. “This is where we were taken in, and this is where our careers began.
“It’s awesome to be recognized like this on campus.”
Ten representatives with Anteater ties participated in six different sports at the Beijing Games, including UCI men’s volleyball head coach John Speraw and women’s volleyball assistant coach Jay Hosack. Both were on the staff of the gold medal men’s indoor volleyball team.
The other 2008 UCI Olympians were cyclist Amber Neben, badminton players Eva Lee and May Mangkalakiri. Also honored was Nick Scandone, who is competing in the Paralympics, which continue through Wednesday, Sept. 17. Scandone was chosen as the flag bearer for the U.S. team in the Sept. 6 opening ceremonies.
Scandone is being coached in Beijing by UCI sailing coach Mike Pinckney.
“We had a lot of fun,” Hutten said of the reception. “It’s always great to give a little bit back to UCI because we’ve gotten so much out of it.”