Six athletes, representing four different countries and ranging in ages from 22 to 30, are set to participate in the Olympic games later this summer. Their one commonality? A Cornell education.
Muhammad Halim ’08, Tracy Eisser ’12, Alex Karwoski ’12, Bruno Hortelano-Roig ’14, Stephen Mozia ’15 and rising senior Rudy Winkler will all make the trip to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the games beginning on Friday.
Muhammad Halim ’08
The oldest of the group, Halim, already had a taste of the Olympics when he represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the triple jump in London in 2012. In 2008, Halim nearly made the international games, but fell just short in qualifiers.
Before his career as an international field athlete, Halim boasted four very strong years in Ithaca on the Cornell track and field squad. He was named an NCAA All-American four times, and he was the NCAA Outdoor national champion in the triple jump during the spring of his senior year.
He graduated as Cornell’s all-time record holder in the indoor triple jump (second all-time outdoors), and also took home multiple Ivy League Heptagonal and NCAA Regional honors.
Although he never competed under current Cornell men’s track and field head coach Adrian Durant during his time in Ithaca, Halim will participate in the Olympics under Durant, who is from the U.S. Virgin Islands and was named the coach of the territory’s delegation at Rio.
Tracy Eisser ’12
Eisser graduated with Cornell’s Class of 2012 and will represent the United States in rowing, competing in the quadruple sculls. Eisser walked on as a freshman at Cornell and has advanced far in her capabilities since 2008.
During her time at Cornell, Eisser earned second team All-Ivy honors, finished 11th in the 2012 NCAA Women’s Rowing National Championship and was named a CRCA National Scholar Athlete. On the international stage, Tracy won a silver medal at the 2014 World Rowing Cup II and a gold at last year’s FISA World Rowing Championships.
Alex Karwoski ’12
Classmate and fellow rower Karwoski will join Eisser in representing the U.S. for rowing. Karwoski will compete as one of eight heavyweight men in their quest for gold. A come from behind victory in the final qualifying regatta for the Olympics ensured him a spot at the games.
As a rower for the Red, the engineering student spent two years as a member of the varsity eight and earned the utmost respect from his coaches along the way. For the past four years, Karwoski has been fine-tuning his skillset through work with the U.S. national team. Earlier this year, he took home a bronze medal at the World Rowing Cup II.
Bruno Hortelano-Roig ’14
Hortelano-Roig graduated from Cornell two years ago and will now have the honor of representing his native country of Spain. A highly talented sprinter, he won five individual Ivy Heptagonal championships and was an All-American his senior year in the 200-meter. Hortelano-Roig holds the school record in the 200 and 400 outdoors, and the 60, 200, 300 and 400 indoors. Ironically, he does not hold the record in the 100 — one of the events he will run in Rio.
Hortelano-Roig qualified for Rio by running a 10.06 second 100 meter dash, a personal record. He also qualified for the 200 meters, though he did not finish first in the race. He won his spot in the 200 when the runner who finished first was disqualified for leaving his lane.
The Spaniard has become a viral sensation as of late when a video was posted to YouTube of him reacting to the news that he had actually won a spot on the team to Rio. The video has almost 500,000 views in a little over a week.
Stephen Mozia ’15
The final Cornell alum of the group is Mozia, a graduate of the class of 2015. Mozia will represent Nigeria in the shot put and the discus — both events in which he medaled during the Confederation of African Athletics championships in June.
Following in the pattern of other Cornellians attending the games, Mozia was somewhat of a legend during his time in Ithaca. He was an eight-time All-American in track and field and a two-time Heps most outstanding field athlete. Mozia currently holds the Cornell, Ivy League and Nigerian records for both the shot put and discus.
He has already represented Nigeria on the international stage during the African Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Continental Cup. He will look to continue his dominance against the world’s finest in Brazil.
Rudy Winkler ’17
Rounding out the group is rising senior Rudy Winkler, the only participant so far who is a current Cornell student. Winkler will represent the U.S. in the hammer throw, just narrowly earning a spot. Although Winkler upset the field to win the hammer throw in the Olympic trials in Oregon, he did not meet the qualifying standard necessary to receive an automatic bid. While his throw was not immediately far enough to qualify, after waiting another week, Winkler received an invitation from the International Association of Athletics Federation to compete in the games.
So far, Winkler has dominated with the Red. He has won multiple Ivy League titles and has been named an All-American. This past season, he had the the second longest throw in the NCAA. Winkler will look to carry his momentum into Rio and then for one more year at Cornell.
Competition for the six athletes begins on August 5. While at this time they will all proudly representing their home countries, their shared bond of the Red will live on in Brazil.