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Reporting on health care, criminal justice, the economy and other important issues in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

From JuVaughn Harrison to Raven Saunders: Your Olympics Guide For Gulf South Pride

A set of Olympic Rings sits on Mount Takao in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Photo Courtesy of IOC Media
A set of Olympic Rings sits on Mount Takao in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

The Olympics are underway and among the thousands of Olympians from around the world competing in Tokyo this year are dozens of talented athletes from Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Louisiana is the one with the most Olympic ties. Louisiana State University (LSU) alone will send22 athletes, many of whom will compete in track and field competitions.

All eyes were on LSU alum Sha’Carri Richardson, who earned the title of “Fastest Woman in America”, after dominating the 100-meter Olympic trial. Richardson, however, will miss the Olympics. After testing positive for marijuana in a drug test, she was disqualified from the 100-meter race and then not chosen for the 4x100-meter relay.

Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, another Louisiana track and field star, will be there. He is competing on the Swedish team in pole-vaulting and holds the current indoor world record at 6.18 meters. He’ll be up against Sam Kendricks from Oxford, Mississippi, who won a bronze medal in Rio in 2016.

JuVaughn Harrison, also from LSU, represents both Louisiana and Alabama as a Huntsville native. He will make Olympic history as the first American man to compete in both high jump and long jump since Jim Thorpe in 1912. His mother also ran track at Alabama A&M and is part of the Alabama A&M Athletics Hall of Fame.

Quanesha Burks is another regional wonder to keep an eye on in the long jump category. Before making it to the Olympics, Burks’ last job wasworking at a McDonald’s in Hartselle, Alabama.

Other Alabamians on Team USA include Rhyan White, who won the Olympic Trials for the women’s 200-meter backstroke as well as Justin Thomas, a former World Number One golfer.

One of the top Mississippians to watch is Brittney Reese, who already has an Olympic gold medal and six time world championships under her belt,. This is Reese’s fourth and last time representing her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi at the Olympics. She won her gold medal at the Olympics in London in 2012 and a silver in Rio in 2016.

NBA superstar Devin Booker is joining Team USA basketball after leading the Phoenix Suns to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993. Booker cut his teeth in Mississippi, playing at Moss Point High School for three years.

Raven Saunders, an Ole Miss alum, will be competing in shot put. She went to the Rio Olympics in 2016 and has broken records since she was in high school.

Here are all the Olympians that have ties to Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, so you know who to root for:


  • Nicole Ahsinger, USA, Gymnastics (went to UL Lafayette)
  • Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay (went to LSU)
  • Juan Celaya-Hernandez, Mexico, Diving (went to LSU)
  • Allysha Chapman, Canada, Soccer (went to LSU)
  • Michael Cherry, USA, Track and Field, 400m (went to LSU)
  • Brooks Curry, USA, Swimming (goes to LSU)
  • Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, Sweden, Track and Field, Pole-Vaulting (from Lafayette)
  • Semoy Hackett, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay (went to LSU)
  • JuVaughn Harrison, USA, Track and Field, High Jump, Long Jump (went to LSU)
  • Akanni Hislop, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay (went to LSU)
  • Aleia Hobbs, USA, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay (from New Orleans)
  • Fred Kerley, USA, Track and Field, 100m (from Morgan City)
  • Morgan Leleux, USA, Track and Field, Pole-Vaulting (New Iberia)
  • Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Great Britain, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay, 200m (went to LSU)
  • Vernon Norwood, USA, Track and Field, 4x400m Relay (from New Orleans)
  • Favour Ofili, Nigeria, Track and Field, 200m, 4x1, 4x4 (went to LSU)
  • Meghan O’Leary, USA, Rowing (from Baton Rouge)
  • Duop Reath, Australia, Basketball (went to LSU)
  • Madelene Sagstrom, Sweden, Golf (went to LSU)
  • Amanda Sanchez, Mexico, Softball (went to LSU)
  • Aliaksei Shostak, USA, Gymnastics (from Lafayette)
  • Neil Skupski, Great Britain, Tennis (went to LSU)
  • Damion Thomas, Jamaica, Track and Field, 110m Hurdles (goes to LSU)
  • Richard Thompson, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 4x100m Relay (went to LSU)
  • Anne Tuxen, Norway, Diving (went to LSU)
  • Michael Venus, USA, Tennis (went to LSU)


  • Quanesha Burks, USA, Track and Field, Long Jump (from Harselle)
  • Allysha Chapman, Canada, Soccer (went to UA)
  • Brandon Dickinson, USA, Baseball (from Prattville)
  • Kristian Gkolomeev, Greece, Swimming (went to UA)
  • James Hall, USA, Shooting (from Anniston)
  • JuVaughn Harrison, USA, Track and Field, Long Jump, High Jump (from Huntsville)
  • Zach Harting, USA, Swimming (from Madison)
  • Daniel Haugh, USA, Track and Field, Hammer Throw (went to UA)
  • Kirani James, Grenada, Track and Field, 400m (went to UA)
  • Paige Madden, USA, Swimming (from Mobile)
  • Haylie McCleney, USA, Softball (from Morris)
  • Anton McKee, Iceland, Swimming (went to UA)
  • Shallon Olsen, Canada, Gymnastics (goes to UA)
  • Diana Petkova, Bulgaria, Swimming (goes to UA)
  • Abbas Qali, Kuwait, Swimming (went to UA)
  • Jereem Richards, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 200m, 4x400m (went to UA)
  • David Robertson, USA, Baseball (from Tuscaloosa)
  • Justin Thomas, USA, Golf (went to UA)
  • Sandra Uptagrafft, USA, Shooting (from Phenix City)
  • Merel van Dongen, Netherlands, Soccer (went to UA)
  • Rhyan White, USA, Swimming (goes to UA)


  • Marco Arop, Canada, Track and Field, 800m (went to MSU)
  • Devin Booker, USA, Basketball (went to Moss Point High)
  • Erica Bougard, USA, Track and Field, Heptathlon (went to MSU)
  • Adell Colthrust, Trinidad & Tobago, Track and Field, 4x400m Relay (goes to JSU)
  • Anaso Jobodwana, South Africa, Track and Field, 200m (went to JSU)
  • Sam Kendricks, USA, Track and Field, Pole Vault (from Oxford)
  • Brandon McBride, Canada, Track and Field, 800m (went to MSU)
  • Shelby McEwen, USA, Track and Field, High Jump (from Abbeville)
  • Cory McGee, USA, Track and Field, 1500m (from Pass Christian)
  • Marta Pen Freitas, Portugal, Track and Field, 1500m (went to MSU)
  • Anderson Peters, Grenada, Track and Field, Javelin Throw (went to MSU)
  • Brittney Reese, USA, Track and Field, Long Jump (from Gulfport)
  • Raven Saunders, USA, Track and Field, Shot Put (went to Ole Miss)
  • Rafaelle Souza, Brazil, Soccer (went to Ole Miss)
  • Curtis Thompson, Canada, Track and Field, Javelin Throw (went to MSU)
  • Alison Weisz, USA, Shooting (went to Ole Miss)
Eva Tesfaye
Eva Tesfaye is a 2020 Kroc Fellow. She started in October 2020 and will spend the year rotating through different parts of NPR.

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