UA student-athletes perform on Olympic stage

Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

Current and former student-athletes represented the Crimson Tide on the Olympic stage this summer. 

Rhyan White

Alabama swimmer Rhyan White will return from Tokyo with new hardware after winning a silver medal in the women’s 4×100 medley relay. 

White, who will begin her senior year at the University in the fall, competed in her first Olympics this summer. The rising senior became the first swimmer from Utah to compete in the Olympic Games. White is the third female athlete — and first female swimmer — from the University to compete in the Olympics.  

She is an NCAA champion and holds the program record of 1 minute, 48.55 seconds for the 200-yard backstroke. At the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska in June, White finished first in the 200-meter backstroke. She qualified for Tokyo with a time of 2 minutes, 5.73 seconds.

White competed in three events during the 2020 Olympics: the 100 backstroke, the 200 backstroke and the 4×100 medley relay. She participated in two event finals. 

For the 100 backstroke, White finished second in both the qualifying heat and semifinal to qualify for the finals. In both races, she was just behind her U.S. teammate Regan Smith. White placed fourth and fell short of the podium. 

In the 200 backstroke, White won the qualifying heat and placed third in her semifinal to qualify for the final race. Once again, the Utah native was shy of medaling with a fourth place finish.

White swam the backstroke leg of the 4×100 qualifying heat, where the U.S. finished second behind Canada. In the final, Team USA captured the silver medal, finishing behind an Olympic record-breaking performance of 3 minutes, 51.60 seconds by Australia. 

White returned to Utah after her Olympic campaign. She was welcomed by family, friends and fans at a parade in Salt Lake City, Utah. During an interview with KUTV, White talked about the champion’s welcome she received. 

White said she was proud of her Olympic performance despite missing the podium for two events and hopes to return to the international stage. 

“I mean, obviously my goal is to go back to the Olympics,” White said to KUTV 

Shallon Olsen 

UA senior Shallon Olsen competed in the Olympics for a second time this year on the Canadian gymnastics team/ She competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio where she finished eighth overall in the vault final. 

Outside of her NCAA career, Olsen is the 2018 World Championship silver medalist for vault, and she won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games for vault. In 2019, Olsen finished fourth overall in vault behind Simone Biles, Jade Carey and Ellie Downie. 

Olsen competed in the all-around competition for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. Olsen did not qualify for the all-around final, but she did qualify for the vault final with a score of 14.699. 

At the final, Olsen finished seventh overall with a score of 14.550. There was a difference of .183 between Olsen and the bronze medalist, Yeo Seojeong of South Korea. 

“Absolutely gutted about vault finals… not how I had envisioned my second Olympics to go and not the result I wanted either,” Olsen wrote on Instagram. “This was my ONLY shot at getting a medal for my country, and I feel like I let myself down in a lot of ways.”

Despite these results, Olsen said she was grateful to enjoy the big competition stage again. 

“It’s difficult to be perfect when you’re competing against the best,” Olsen wrote on Instagram. “This is not how I wanted my Olympic experience to end, and I’m sure you all can see that. Thank you all for your love and support it really does mean the world to me.”