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Recapping Northwestern’s performance at the 2020 Olympics

The ‘Cats made a splash in Tokyo this summer.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 5

Prior to the start of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer, Northwestern officially announced that five Wildcat athletes — four former and one current — would be competing in the summer games. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics now wrapped up, let’s recap how each Northwestern athlete performed in their respective sports.

Federico Burdisso, Swimming (Italy)

Burdisso, a rising junior at Northwestern, came into these Olympics as the only current Wildcat student-athlete competing. He was impressive to say the least, taking home two bronze medals for Italy in the men’s 200m butterfly and the men’s 4x100m medley relay.

In the 200m butterfly final, Burdisso managed to get off to a quick start, staying within the top three for the majority of the race. He eventually fell behind Kristóf Milák of Hungary and Tomoru Honda of Japan, the first of whom would set an Olympic Record for the race at 1:51.25. Burdisso finished the final just over three seconds behind Milák with a time of 1:54.45.

Moving on to the 4x100m medley relay, Italy got off to a quick start with a great 52.52 second opening lap from Burdisso’s teammate Thomas Ceccon. Burdisso swam third for Italy in the relay, finishing his lap at a speedy 51.07 seconds. His time, combined with a stellar final lap from teammate Alessandro Miressi, was enough for Italy to finish in third. They finished behind Great Britain and the United States, and just 0.05 seconds ahead of fourth place Russia.

Andrea Filler, Softball (Italy)

While Italy’s Olympic softball largely struggled throughout the games, failing to win a single match, Andrea Filler was somewhat of a bright spot for the team. Filler, a 2016 graduate, played second base throughout Italy’s five group stage games, recording three hits in 13 at bats and striking out just three times. Additionally, she managed to spoil a no-hitter, recording Italy’s lone hit against the United States. She was an integral part of the team defensively as well, recording zero errors and seven put outs.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, Women’s Basketball (Nigeria)

Much like Italy softball, Nigeria’s women’s basketball team had a tough time throughout the Olympics, losing each of their three group stage games against France, the United States and Japan. Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, a former first team All-Big Ten performer and 2019 Northwestern graduate, started all three games for Nigeria.

However, while she did start every game played, Kunaiyi-Akpanah averaged just 11 minutes per game. Additionally, she totaled two points throughout, scoring once on five attempts from the field in Nigeria’s opener against the United States. With that being said, Kunaiyi-Akpanah was a huge help on the boards, posting nine rebounds in 14 minutes against the U.S. and four rebounds in 12 minutes against France.

Krystal Lara, Dominican Republic (Swimming)

Krystal Lara, a 2020 Northwestern graduate and former bronze and silver medalist at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, swam in both the women’s 100m backstroke and the women’s 200m backstroke but failed to qualify for the finals in either of the events. Lara finished fourth in the second heat of the 100m backstroke with a time of 1:03.07, just 42 milliseconds behind third place. Meanwhile, she finished eighth in the second heat of the 200m backstroke with a time of 2:18.63.

Jordan Wilimovsky, Swimming (United States)

Jordan Wilimovsky is a bit of a swim legend at Northwestern. A former four-time All-American, Wilimovsky holds Northwestern records in the 500m freestyle, the 1,000m freestyle and the 1,650m freestyle. The 2017 graduate made his second appearance at the Olympics after participating in the 2016 Rio Games in both the 1,500 meter swim and the 10K open water swim, where he finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

While he didn’t participate in both pool and open water events this year like he did in Rio de Janeiro, he did partake in the 10K open water swim. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for Wilimovsky, as he finished 10th out of 26 participants with a time of 1:51:40.2. He finished just under three minutes behind German gold medalist Florian Wellbrock.