Several athletes with Milwaukee-area ties are competing in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which officially got underway late last week and will run through Aug. 8.
Among those taking part in the Summer Games, which were delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, are marathoner and Nashota native Molly Seidel; track athlete Emily Sisson, who was born in Menomonee Falls; sailor Stephanie Roble of East Troy; Waterford native Madelynn Bernau, a trapshooting category entrant; and Alie Rusher of West Bend, who competed over the weekend in the quadruple sculls rowing competition.
Seidel, 26, the most decorated high school runner ever in Wisconsin, earned a spot on the Olympic marathon squad in February 2020 when she made history at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. She became the first U.S. woman to make an Olympic team in her debut marathon, a stunning second-place finish to earn one of the three spots on the team for Tokyo.
Seidel starred at tiny University Lake School in Hartland in Waukesha County. She won four consecutive Division 3 state championships in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs, setting state records along the way. She also won the state cross country title four years a row.
In college at Notre Dame, Seidel won an NCAA Division I cross-country national title and three titles on the track.
Sisson, 29, had also hoped to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon but she dropped out late in the trials race, which was held immediately before the widespread shutdown of sporting events happened because of the pandemic.
Sisson, who now resides in Phoenix, got another shot at Tokyo in June at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Sisson took advantage of the opportunity and obliterated the field in the 10,000 meters, winning in a Trials record time of 31:03.82, shattering a standard that had stood for 17 years. Alicia Monson, of Amery in Polk County and a former University of Wisconsin-Madison track athlete, finished third in the Trials and joins Sisson in Tokyo.
On the water in Japan, Roble, 32, and her sailing partner, Chicago native Maggie Shea, will be in search of an Olympic medal in the 49erFX competition. There are 10 different classes of sailing in the Olympics. In the 49erFX class, Roble and Shea will compete on a high-performance skiff, the fastest boat that women sail in Olympic competition.
Roble’s passion for sailing started at an early age on the waters of tiny Lake Beulah in Walworth County. She began racing sailboats at age 7.
In February 2020, in the face of intense competition, Roble and Shea together earned spots in the Tokyo Summer Olympics. They won the medal race at the 49erFX world championships in Geelong, Australia, and with that victory captured a bronze medal in the world championships and an all-important spot on the Olympic team.
Bernau, 23, is competing in her first Olympics. She previously won the silver medal in the International Shooting Sport Federation’s shotgun World Cup event in Lonato, Italy.
A 2016 graduate of Waterford Union High School, Bernau started shooting clay targets when she was 12 and began shooting in USA Shooting sanctioned competitions in 2016.
West Bend rower Alie Rusher, 25, competed in quadruple sculls competition on Friday, with her team finishing fifth in their preliminary heat. The team went on to finish sixth in the repechage race – a contest in which those who failed to win heats compete for a place in the final – on Sunday at Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo Bay.
Rusher’s father, John, was part of the men’s four crew that won a bronze medal at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. Her mother, Cynthia Eckert, won a silver medal on the women’s four at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
Also taking part in the Summer Games are Milwaukee Bucks’ stars Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, fresh off winning an NBA championship on Tuesday and taking part in a parade and massive celebration in Milwaukee on Thursday. They are members of the USA basketball squad, who suffered a surprising 83-76 opening-round loss to France on Sunday. Holiday led the team with 18 points in 28 minutes of action. Middleton played only five minutes and didn’t score.
The team next plays on Wednesday versus Iran.