Aug. 17, 2004

Colonials Advance on Athens

Five Current or Former Colonials Compete at 28th Olympiad

By Rachel Muir

Four GW alumni and one current student are among the elite athletes competing at this month’s Summer Olympics in Athens. Chad Senior (BS ’97), a second-time Olympian, will take part in the grueling modern pentathlon. The sport — introduced in 1912 as a contemporary version of the classic pentathlon — includes running, swimming, pistol shooting, horseback riding and fencing. Senior, who finished sixth in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, is an Army infantry officer and part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, created for aspiring Olympians. While at GW, Senior set five swimming records and was named Atlantic 10 Freshman Swimmer of the Year and A-10 Conference champion twice. The men’s modern pentathlon will be held Aug. 26.

Washington, DC, native Aquil Abdullah (Attn. 1992–96) heads to Athens as the first African American man on the US Olympic rowing team. A star wide receiver at DC’s Wilson High School, Abdullah opted for rowing over football after a scholarship offer from GW. He missed qualifying for the 2000 Games by a fraction of a second, but a first-place finish in the double sculls at this year’s Olympic trials secured his position on the Olympic team. Abdullah rowed with partner Henry Nuzum Aug. 14 in the first heats for men’s double sculls; finals will be held Aug. 24.

GW student Brett Heyl is also taking to the Olympic waters, racing in the whitewater slalom kayak. Known as K-1 whitewater, the sport requires paddlers to navigate up to 20 gates while steering through rapids. Heyl, an economics major, took a leave from his studies to train full time — a break which paid off with a win at the Pan American championship. His second place finish at the US Team Trials, as well as an eighth place finish in a World Cup event, earned Heyl a spot on the US Olympic team. Heyl plans to return to GW in the fall. Men’s whitewater slalom kayaking will be held Aug. 19 and 20.

Two GW women’s basketball stars — Ugo Oha (BA ’04) and Elisa Aguilar (BA ’00) — will compete in the summer Games. Oha, a 6-foot-4 center, will play for the Nigerian national team in the team’s Olympic debut, while Aguilar, a 5-foot-8 guard, will play for the Spanish team. Oha, who was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, holds GW’s record for blocked shots, is eighth on the all-time scoring list, and sixth in rebounds. Aguilar holds GW’s record for free throw percentage and ranks third in three-point shooting.

Both players were named A–10 Rookie of the Year and All-A-10 First Team. Aguilar also played professionally in Spain before joining the Utah Starzz of the WNBA in 2002. The Nigerian team plays in Group A, along with Greece, Australia, Japan and Russia, while the Spanish team is in Group B with the United States, the Czech Republic, China, New Zealand and Korea. Women’s basketball runs from Aug. 14 to 28.

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