Coloradans winning medals at the Tokyo Olympics

Japan Recycled Old Cell Phones And Other Electronics To Make The 2020 Olympic Medals
Posted at 6:33 AM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 00:43:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — More than 30 athletes across Colorado brought their all to the world stage at the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

The athletes' specialties include track and field, taekwondo, climbing, rowing, wrestling, and more.

Colorado was also the third state with the most Olympic athletes this year, it also is the state with the most Olympians per capita with 5.9 athletes per million population.

We kept track of how many medals Colorado athletes won at this Olympic Games. In total Colorado took home 14 medals. If we were our own country we would tie with Poland and rank #17 for most medals won. If we were our own country going by Gold medals we would rank #15 behind Cuba.

To learn more about which sports we dominated in, and the athletes who brought home the gold, silver, and bronze, check out the stats and bios below.

Learn more about the winners below:

Anastasija Zolotic | Colorado Springs | Taekwondo, 57 kg

Anastasija Zolotic, 18, is one of the youngest athletes from Colorado who qualified to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

On Sunday, July 25 she won her first gold medal, defeating Tatiana Minina of ROC to win the women's -57 kg taekwondo final.

With this victory, Zolotic becomes the first American woman to ever win taekwondo gold.

She said that while self-quarantining in Colorado Springs with two of her teammates, they turned the basement into a makeshift gymnasium to continue their training, according to Team USA.

“We kind of cleared the couches out of there,” Zolotic told Team USA. “We set up mats all over the floor, and we took the gear and the pads and stuff from the (USA Taekwondo National Center of Excellence) and took them home, cleaned them and trained together. And then slowly we were able to train in open spaces. We would find a park and train.”

She is a junior world champion and a new, strong athlete with USA Taekwondo.

She said her favorite quote is "Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough," by American author Og Mandino.

William Shaner | Colorado Springs | Shooting, 10-meter air rifle

Young U.S. shooter Will Shaner takes air rifle gold
Will Shaner takes aim in the men's 10-meter air rifle competition in Tokyo.

Colorado Springs native Will Shaner, 20, won the 10-meter air rifle on Sunday, July 25.

In the shootout, Shaner beat China's Sheng Lihao.

Shaner was named the 2018-19 NCAA Rookie of the Year, but he's grown beyond rookie status to earn a spot in the 2020 Olympics.

He was a gold medalist in the 2021 ISSF World Cup Croatia for both the individual air rifle and the team air rifle competition (alongside fellow Coloradan Lucas Kozeniesky).

Shaner was just 15 years old during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but was already spending hours practicing each day at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, according to Team USA. He won his first Junior Olympic Gold Medal when he was 11 years old.

Amber English | Colorado Springs | Skeet shooting

Amber English
Amber English, of the United States, celebrates taking the gold medal in the women's skeet at the Asaka Shooting Range in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Amber English, 31, will compete in her first Olympics this year after qualifying in March 2020. It was a major achievement for her after she fell short of qualifying in 2012 and 2016.

She is competing as part of the Women’s Skeet Team and a first lieutenant with the World Class Athlete Program attached to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, according to USA Shooting.

She comes from a family of distinguished shooters: Her father and uncle were U.S. Running Target National Team members and Olympic Training center resident athletes, and her mother and aunt were members of one of America’s top collegiate rifle programs at the University of Kentucky, according to USA Shooting.

English won her first world championship medal in 2018, according to Team USA.

She attended the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, graduating in 2012.

UPDATE: English won the gold medal in woman's skeet shooting.

Lucas Kozeniesky | Colorado Springs | Shooting, 10-meter air rifle

Lucas Kozeniesky.jpg

Lucas Kozeniesky, 26, started shooting in 2009, and by 2016 he had earned a ticket to Tokyo with USA Shooting. He placed 21st then and is now primed to return to the world stage in Tokyo.

In March, he won a gold and bronze medal in the 2021 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in New Delhi.

According to USA Shooting, he said he has made major improvements to his training and mental game since 2016.

He was born in Metairie, Louisiana and now lives in Colorado Springs. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017 and became the first All-American since 1975 from the school.

He has opened a shooting consultation business, called Team Winning Solutions, focused on supporting youth athletes and rifle coaching.

UPDATE: Kozeniesky earned a silver medal in the mixed team 10-meter air rifle, along with Mary Tucker.

Valarie Allman | Longmont | Track and field, discus throw

APYOPIX US Track Trials Athletics
Valarie Allman celebrates during the finals of women's discus throw at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Twenty-six-year-old Valarie Allman won the women's discus by 7.38 meters (24 feet, 3 inches) at the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in June with a throw of 69.92 meters (229 feet and 4.76 inches). All five of her allotted throws would have won the event.

She is a favorite for the gold medal. Only two American women have won a title in this event in the past — Lillian Copeland in 1932 and Stephanie Brown Trafton in 2008, according to Team USA.

In 2020, she set a U.S. record of 70.15 meters (230 feet and 1.81 inches).

She attended Stanford University.

UPDATE: Allman won the gold medal in the discus throw. It was the first gold medal for Team USA's track and field team.

Adeline Gray | Denver | Wrestling, freestyle 76 kg

Adeline Maria Gray
Adeline Maria Gray of United States celebrates as she won the gold match of the women's 76kg category against Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki of Japan during the Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Anvar Ilyasov)

Adeline Gray is returning to the Olympics after finishing seventh in 2016, despite a shoulder injury.

She was considered a medal contender that year and is ready to return to finish what she started.

Training for Tokyo meant she had to defer another dream. She told The Denver Post she wants to be a mother but decided to train for Tokyo instead.

“I was planning on being pregnant right now,” she told the Post in April, describing how she mapped out a detailed plan to become a mother in 2021. “And to have that mental switch to train for another entire year is very hard.”

She's a five-time senior world champion and two-time senior world bronze medalist. She's competed in the world championship since 2011 and is the only U.S. wrestler to win five career senior world titles, according to Team USA.

UPDATE: Gray won the silver medal.

Kevin McDowell | Colorado Springs | Triathlon (individual and mixed relay)

Canada Pan Am Games Triathlon
United States' Kevin McDowell stands in the podium with his silver medal following the Men's Triathlon at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Ontario, Sunday, July 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

University of Colorado graduate Kevin McDowell, 28, is a seven-time World Triathlon Cup medalist and is now ready to put his strength to the test in Tokyo.

He grew up in USA Triathlon’s youth and junior elite triathlon circuit and represented Team USA at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where he earned silver in the individual event and bronze in the relay.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and took six months away from the sport to undergo chemotherapy, according to Team USA. Ten years later, he is cancer-free.
On May 15, he placed 11th at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama.

He grew up in Illinois and now lives in Colorado Springs.

UPDATE: McDowell placed sixth in the men's individual triathlon. He was the first American to finish, coming in with a time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. He was also a part of a mixed relay, which won the silver medal.

Morgan Pearson | Boulder | Triathlon (individual and relay)

Morgan Pearson, 27, grew up as a competitive swimmer and ocean lifeguard and was a promising young runner at his high school in New Jersey.

He went on to run for the University of Colorado at Boulder and began working through USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program. He debuted as an elite triathlete in 2018 after winning the overall title at the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in 2017, according to Team USA.

So far this year, he won bronze at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan and silver in the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds in the United Kingdom. This made him the first American man to earn multiple World Triathlon Championship Series medals, according to Team USA.

Pearson said his older brother's death in March 2021 gave him the boost he needed to qualify for Tokyo.

"Hopefully when I’m at the Olympics, he’ll be there with me," he said.

He is currently living and training in Boulder.

UPDATE: Pearson placed 42nd in the men's individual triathlon, with a time of 1 hour and 52 minutes. He posted on Instagram that it was a rough day for him and felt awful for the full race, but was focusing now on the relay. The relay team placed second, securing a silver medal.

Jennifer Valente | Colorado Springs | Track cycling

Peru Pan Am Games
Jennifer Valente of United States celebrates winning the gold medal in the track cycling women's omnium at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Jennifer Valente, 26, was born in San Diego and moved to Colorado Springs in 2014 to continue her training toward the Tokyo Olympics.

While training, the cyclist also enrolled in classes at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs College of Engineering and Applied Science to earn a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering.

"Right now, it is really fine-tuning a lot of the little things,” she told Denver7’s sister station KOAA in late June. “Working a lot with heat adaptation. The heat right now is actually a big benefit as we go into Tokyo."

She earned the silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in the team pursuit. She has won 4 UCI World Championship titles, with a total of 9 World Championship medals in her career.

UPDATE: Valente, along with three other U.S. women, is taking home the bronze medal in the track women's team pursuit.

Lindsey Horan | Golden | Soccer

Lindsey Horan
United States' Lindsey Horan (9) advances the ball against Portugal during the second half of an international friendly soccer match Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Midfielder Lindsey Horan, who was born in Wheat Ridge and lives in Golden, is headed back to the Olympic stage after competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and helping bring the team to fifth place.

She first made headlines when she became the first American woman to skip college and head straight to the pros after high school, according to Team USA. She played with Paris Saint Germain in France for four years before returning to the United States.

“One of the main reasons I made the choice I did was to be uncomfortable — I thought I’d get to my goal quicker (with) that alternate route. I wanted to risk everything to make the National Team,” Horan told Team USA.

The 27-year-old graduated from Golden High School in 2012.

UPDATE: The U.S. Women's National Team fell to Canada, knocking them out of the running for a gold medal. They ended up winning bronze.

Paul Chelimo | Colorado Springs | Track and field, 5,000 meters

US Track Trials Athletics
Winner, Paul Chelimo leads the pack in the finals of men's 5000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Paul Chelimo, 30, is returning to the Olympics in 2021 after winning a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Born in Kenya, the Colorado Springs resident attended the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where he graduated in 2013.

In June, he won the men's 5,000-meter race in hot conditions, breaking free from the pack toward the end.

He attained U.S. citizenship by joining the U.S. Army and the World Class Athlete Program in 2014, according to Team USA. He is now a specialist in the U.S. Army.

Chelimo said he aspires to become a water treatment specialist in Kenya and establish a water treatment plant in his native country, according to Team USA.

UPDATE: Chelimo won the bronze medal in a time of 12:59.

Jordyn Poulter | Aurora | Volleyball

Nebraska Illinois Volleyball
Illinois' Jordyn Poulter (1) sets to teammate Ashlyn Fleming while Nebraska's Callie Schwarzenbach (25) and Lexi Sun defend in the first set of a semifinal match of the NCAA Div I Women's Volleyball Championships Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Twenty-three-year-old Jordyn Poulter is all set for her Olympic debut (see what we did there?).
The Eaglecrest High School 2014 graduate is a setter for USA Volleyball, where she has been a member since 2018.

She won gold in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Poulter is an aspiring filmmaker and graduated from the University of Illinois in 2018 with a degree in media and cinema studies. She plays the piano and guitar.

She was born in Illinois and grew up in Colorado.

UPDATE: The U.S. women’s volleyball team won the gold medal, a first for the team.

Haleigh Washington | Colorado Springs | Volleyball

Haleigh Washington, a 25-year-old Colorado native, has been a member of the U.S. Women's National Team since 2018 and is now headed to her first Olympic Games.

She won silver in the FIVB World Cup in 2019 and gold in the 2019 Tokyo Qualification Tournament.

She was named the 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year and started playing professionally in Italy in 2018.

Washington attended Doherty High School in Colorado Springs, where she was named the two-time Colorado Gatorade High School Player of the Year. She also set the state high school record for 48 kills in a single match, according to USA Volleyball.

UPDATE: The U.S. women’s volleyball team won the gold medal, a first for the team.