Whether you always side with the underdog or prefer an odds-on favorite, whether you’re impressed by athletic power or grace, whether you like a rising star or a gritty veteran, you’ll find someone to root for among the six Michigan women who’ll represent the U.S. in four sports at the Rio Olympics beginning Aug. 5.
Veteran rower Ellen Tomek, 32, from Flushing is an underdog in double sculls at her second Olympic games, while 21-year-old middleweight boxer Claressa Shields, of Flint, is an odds-on favorite to take home Gold again at her second games.
Tomek and fellow rowers Grace Luczak, 27, of Ann Arbor, and Grace Latz, 28, from Jackson are the very embodiment of power. Setter Alisha Glass, 28, of Leland, brings grace, finesse and success to the U.S. women’s volleyball team.
And swimmer Allison Schmidt, 26, from Canton, has, over the course of three Olympics, experienced every emotion the games can offer: A wide-eye rookie in Beijing, Schmitt had just an outside chance to make the team for RIO despite winning 5 medals, including 3 Golds, in London.
After finishing 5th in the double sculls in Beijing, Tomek missed the London Games. The Luke M. Powers High grad began rowing in 2002 while earning a degree in Economics at the University of Michigan. She pulled stroke oar for the U.S.’s double scull silver medalist boat at the 2015 World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy.
Shields is unstoppable. Although just 17 in London, she was far from a fresh-faced kid. Shields overcame a childhood barely worthy of the name with an unbreakable will and ferocity that has produced a fighter who’s lost just once in 69 fights. “T-Rex” is the first member of her family to earn a high school diploma, graduating from Flint Northwestern.
Latz and Luczak were both in the U.S. women’s four that won the 2015 World Championship in Aiguebelette, France.
Latz has moved to the quadruple sculls for her first Olympics and Luczak is in the women’s pairs for her first Games.
Latz, a 2006 graduate of Jackson Northwest High with a degree in international and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin, won a Gold and Bronze at the World Championships.
Luczak brings three World Championship Golds with her to RIO. A 2007 graduate from Ann Arbor Pioneer, Luczak earned a degree in human biology from Stanford.
The best setter on the best team at the 2014 FIVB World Championships in Italy, Glass earned her way back onto theU.S. team for RIO as the Best Setter of 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. The Leland High grad studied Kinesiology at Penn State.
Perhaps the most decorated swimmer ever from Michigan, “Schmitty” battled depression following a wildly successful Olympics in London where she took 5 medals: Gold in 200-meter free, 4×200 free relay and 4×100 medley relay; Silver in the 400 free and Bronze in the 4×100 free relay. She has 6 Olympic and 3 World Championship medals so far. The 2008 graduate of Canton High has a degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia.