It’s a good summer to be an Ole Miss Rebel! We have nine — count them nine! — members of the Ole Miss family across three sports in Rio de Janeiro. What a great milestone for our university, as this is the most Rebels ever at any single Olympic games. Some unique bragging rights and I couldn’t be more proud of our #RebsInRio as they get ready to compete on the world’s largest stage — and rep Rebel Nation — in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
- Volunteer assistant coach Gwen Berry joined Team USA after finishing as a silver medalist in the hammer at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
- Former Rebel great Antwon Hicks competed at Ole Miss from 2002 to 2005 and will represent Team Nigeria in his first trip to the Olympics. He will run in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
- Oxford native Sam Kendricks became the eighth Rebel all-time to wear a Team USA jersey when he was the top qualifier in the pole vault event.
- Former Ole Miss forward Anthony Perez will be playing for the Venezuelan men’s basketball team. Perez averaged 15.5 minutes and 4.7 points during his four-year career with the Rebels and was a member of the 2012–2013 SEC Tournament Championship team.
- Brittney Reese, a 2012 London Olympics gold medalist and Gulfport native, will be making her third appearance at the Olympics. As a Rebel, Reese was the NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in the long jump in 2008.
- Seven-time SEC champion Ricky Robertson is the first Rebel to make the Olympics in the high jump.
- Raven Saunders, only a sophomore, qualified for her first Olympics by placing second in the shot put at the trials. Read this outstanding feature about Raven’s journey to the top.
- Former Rebel Rafaelle Souza, who was a member of Ole Miss women’s soccer from 2011 to 2013, will be playing for Team Brazil. While a Rebel, Souza tied for the league lead in goals with 22, set the school record for goals in a career with 44, and earned all-SEC honors.
Wait, that’s only eight. I promise I can count! Our very own track and field head coach, Connie Price-Smith, will be in Rio, too — she is Team USA’s head coach for women’s track and field. She brings our total to nine Rebs in Rio!
We are also very proud of eight other Ole Miss Rebels (Craig Engels, MJ Erb, Holland Sherrer, Brian Williams, Isiah Young, and volunteer assistants Isaac Presson, Jessica Ramsey, and Jeneva Stevens) who just missed qualifying for the 2016 games.
You can follow all our Rebs on their Olympic journey at www.RebsInRio.com. And when you watch the opening ceremonies Friday night, be sure to give a hearty “Hotty Toddy” as we support our Rebels who get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go for gold and call themselves Olympians.
Hotty Toddy and U-S-A!
– – Jeff
Jeffrey S. Vitter
Chancellor and Distinguished Professor