Four current or former Missouri State student-athletes will compete in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Update: current athletes’ schedule. Visit NBC Live Stream to view events.
- Uvis Kalnins, Latvia, 200m IM (Individual Medley): Wednesday, August 10
- Jamial Rolle, Bahamas, 100m: Saturday, August 13
- Fabian Florant: Netherlands, Triple Jump: Monday, August 15
- Marissa Kurtimah, Canada, 4×100 relay: Thursday, August 18
Kalnins swims for Latvia
Missouri State swimmer Uvis Kalnins ’17 was named to Latvian Olympic team. He will compete in the 200-meter individual medley at the Rio games next month. Four years ago, Kalnins swam the 100-meter freestyle in the London Olympics and placed 30th.
Missouri State swimming and diving head coach Dave Collins has coached Kalnins for the past four years and says the athlete’s ability to train at a high level every day has prepared him for the challenge ahead.
Kalnins holds school records in the 200 IM, 400 IM, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle.
“Many athletes are able to find short-term and even season-long consistency, but the four-year cycle of training to make the Olympic Games is only for very special athletes,” Collins said.
Kalnins said he looks forward to competing with international superstar Michael Phelps, winner of four medals in London, including the 200-meter individual medley.
“I have had the opportunity to race Mr. Phelps several times, and it has been very exciting,” Kalnins said. “In my opinion, he is one of the greatest athletes that will ever walk the earth. For me to have had the opportunity to race next to him and take part in his journey has been an amazing experience.”
Alumnus races for the Bahamas
Jamial Rolle will run the 200-meter dash for the Bahamas at Rio. Rolle ran at Missouri State 2001-2003, and graduated with a degree in biology in 2003. He was named to the All-MVC Indoor Team in 2001, and All-MVC Outdoor Team in 2000-2002. He was also part of the Missouri State 4x400m relay team in the NCAA Division 1 National Qualifiers in 2002.
He won the MVC 200m indoor championship in 2001 with a time of 21.66. Rolle also competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“This is his second Olympics,” Boyce said, “so he is older, but he runs better than ever, and that’s kind of scary.”
Boyce said that he hopes his athletes will be inspired by Rolle’s determination and improvement over time.
“Hopefully the other kids will see that and don’t quit,” Boyce said.
Alumnus jumps for the Netherlands
Fabian Florant, who graduated in 2007 and received his Master’s in 2010, will compete in the triple jump for the Netherlands.
He has been competing internationally in long jump and triple jump while working in business and finance. Florant has been continuously ranked in the world’s top 25 in both indoor and outdoor jump during the past five years. In May of 2015, he left the business world to train full-time for the 2016 Olympics.
Florant was a 2006 All-American in the triple jump, and was the Missouri Valley Conference indoor champion in 2005 and 2006 while at Missouri State.
Ronald Boyce, Missouri State’s director of track and field and cross country, said Florant has been working tirelessly on his goal to make the Olympic team.
“It’s his first Olympics after eight years. He’s the epitome of determination. He stayed with it,” Boyce said.
Florant said his time at Missouri State helped prepare him to pursue his goal. He said he was determined to compete in the Olympics, calling it, “the highest level of sports a person could ever dream of achieving.”
“Being an All-American at Missouri State and holding the indoor triple jump record there gave me all the confidence in the world to continue to pursue my Olympic dream while in college,” he said.
Student-athlete races for Canada
Kalnins’ fellow Missouri State student Marissa Kurtimah ’18 will run the 4×100-meter relay for her home country of Canada. She placed fifth in the Canadian Olympic Trials final in the 100-meter dash, giving her a chance to compete at Rio. She finished first four times during the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference outdoor season. Kurtimah ran the 100-meter dash in 11.34 seconds at Missouri State this season.
Boyce said Kurtimah’s accomplishments reflect her daily efforts.
“Making an Olympic team is one of the biggest goals for any athlete and to complete this feat as a junior is outstanding. We are tremendously proud of all that she has done and are glad that she is one of us (Bears) and wears the maroon and white,” Boyce said.
“I’ve always dreamed of going to the Olympics and now that my dreams have come true, I am completely shocked,” Kurtimah said. “I have worked extremely hard to get to this point and now that this opportunity is here, I am just filled with excitement and I am truly grateful and blessed.”