5 Olympians with Lindenwood connection headed to Rio


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Jon Holden | Reporter
July 12, 2016; 11:20 AM

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Graphic taken from Lindenwoodlions.com

Five athletes who will be competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero have a connection to Lindenwood University.

The athletes from five different countries are either current or former students of the university, according to a Mike Elam, Student Life sports director.  The Olympics will be Aug. 5 to 21. The competitors are: Morgan Craft, Donald Thomas, Fabian Florant, Muhammad Begaliev and Fernando Reis. They will compete in skeet shooting, track and field and weightlifting events.

Elam said the success of these athletes is a reflection of  the support the university has for its athletes

” Other than track and field — a main stream sport — you have Olympic weightlifting and shotgun sports,” he said. “Those do not have collegiate support across the nation. They have had it for over a decade at Lindenwood.”

Brad Wachler, the new vice president of Intercollegiate Athletics also, said he was enthusiastic about the athletes and their Lindenwood link.

” It is pretty amazing,” Wachler said. “Coming in here and trying to acclimated to the environment, and to see a university have five Olympians is quite a remarkable accomplishment.

Here’s more about the athletes:

Morgan Craft: Craft shot for Lindenwood from 2011-2014 and partook in the three national championships won by LU.  She was named 2015 Shooting Female Athlete of the Year.

Donald Thomas: Thomas won the 2007 World Championship in Japan for high jump. He finished 21st at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  He won the Bahamas National Championship having cleared 2.27 meters. Thomas is a 2006 graduate of Lindenwood, where he was a member of the track team.

Fabian Florant: Florant was a four time All- American and two time National Champion. He competed for Lindenwood from 2002-2004.  He will be representing the Netherlands in the triple-jump in Rio de Janiero.

Muhammad Begaliev: Begaliev will be making his first Olympic appearance in 2016. He is the only competitor of the five who is currently enrolled at Lindenwood. He will be weightlifting for Uzbekistan at the 85 kg division.

Fernando Reis: Reis is a native of Brazil and received a gold medal from the Pan American games in 2015. Reis finished 11th in the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships. Reis attended Lindenwood from 2010-2013.

Lindenwood also has an Olympic alternate for Women’s Wrestling.  Victoria Francis took second at the Olympic trials in Iowa City, Iowa.  Francis is a Litchfield, Illinois, native and won the national championship at the 170 weight class in 2015-2016.