Several Olympians competing on the world stage in Tokyo this summer can trace parts of their athletic journeys back to Fairfax County.
Swimmer Andrew Seliskar, discus thrower Chioma “CiCi” Onyekwere, and runner Trevor Stewart all qualified for the 2020 Olympics, which will take place from July 21 to Aug. 8.
The games were delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will be held without spectators after Japan announced on Friday (July 9) that it would enter a fourth state of emergency starting today (Monday) due to rising cases of the virus.
Seliskar, who graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 2015, is taking on his first Olympics after two previous qualifying attempts at ages 19 and 15, including one where he “narrowly missed” a semi-final spot.
As a student, he broke a national high school record for the 100-yard butterfly in 2014 near Richmond with 53.24 seconds, and he won four national titles swimming at the University of California in Berkeley before becoming a professional swimmer.
The 24-year-old McLean native told Fairfax County Public Schools that he relishes his competitions against high school rivals.
“Those were great memories, and for my swimming career, those are some of the best ones,” he said.
Heats for the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay are scheduled for 6-8:30 a.m. EDT on July 27, and the final will air from 9:30 p.m. EDT on July 27 to 12:05 a.m. EDT on July 28.
Robinson Secondary School graduate Onyekwere will represent Nigeria at the Olympics, since she is a dual citizen of that country and the U.S.
“I feel like Nigeria made me the person I am today, so it’s so nice to give back in some kind of way and represent them,” she told FCPS.
The Michigan-born former University of Maryland athlete currently holds Nigeria’s discus throw record of 63.3 meters, which she set in April in Chula Vista, California, as part of the Nigerian Olympic Trials.
The 27-year-old engineer works for Ford and relocated back to Fairfax County last fall to be with family amid the pandemic, FCPS noted.
The qualifying round for the women’s discus throw is 8:30 p.m. EDT July 30, and the final is 7 a.m. EDT Aug. 2.
Stewart, who graduated from South County High School in 2016, will run the 4×400-meter relay race for Team USA.
His teammates include a fellow student at North Carolina A&T State University. The pair were part of a 4×400 relay team that won national titles this year for the indoor and outdoor track seasons, capping his senior year.
The 24-year-old switched from karate to track and field when he was in ninth grade. To prepare for the upcoming games, he has turned to prayer and meditation, according to FCPS.
“I worked hard for this,” he told FCPS. “There’s always room for improvement, but I’ve made it right now. I’ve made it right here.”
Heats for the men’s 4×400 meter relay are slated for 7:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 6 and 8:50 a.m. EDT Aug. 7 for the final.
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