Check out Illinois’ seven Olympic athletes


Illinois’ Pedrya Seymour runs the 60 Meter Dash at the Illinois Orange and Blue meet in the Armory on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.

Nikkita Holder, Track & Field (100-meter hurdles), Canada

Holder is a Canadian hurdler who competed at Illinois in 2007 and 2008. Holder competes in the 100-meter hurdles and most notably took bronze in the 2015 Pan American games which took place in Toronto. Rio is her first Olympic competition, and she stuck with the usual 100 hurdles. One month before taking bronze in the Pan American games, Holder’s father Lincoln died. After winning, she said that she always gets a reminder of him.  

Susanna Kallur, Track & Field (the 100-meter hurdles), Sweden

Kallur competed for the Illinois women’s track and field team from 2001-2002. Kallur competed in the NCAA Championships for the 100-meter hurdles, finishing in fourth place. Kallur’s professional career includes a 100-hurdles gold medal at the 2006 European Athletics Championship and a world record time of 7.68 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles at the BW-Bank Meeting. The Swedish-native completed the 100 hurdles once more in the Rio Olympics, finishing in 13.04 seconds in the first round. The result put her in 26th place, which was not enough for an advancement to the semifinal races. Americans Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin won gold, silver and bronze, respectively. Rollins’ gold-medal time was 12.48 seconds.

Ashley Kelly, Track & Field (the 200-meter hurdles), British Virgin Islands

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Ashley Kelly ran hurdles at Illinois from 2008-2012. During her time with the Illini, Kelly competed in many events including 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter hurdles. For the British Virgin Islands’ national team, she ran the 200 hurdles. At the Rio Olympics, Kelly completed the race in 23.61 seconds to claim 56th place.

Thomas Pieters, Golf, Belgium

Pieters completed his final season with the Illini in 2013. His collegiate career included winning both the 2011 Jack Nicklaus Invitational and 2012 individual NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, as well as leading Illinois to a second-place finish at the 2013 Big Ten Championship. The Belgian-native came out strong at Rio’s Olympic Golf Course, posting a 67 in round one to finish the day in fourth place. Pieters then shot a 66 in the second round, putting him in second place. The former Illini golfer had a bit of a setback in the third round, shooting a 77 and dropping him down to a share of 56th place. Pieters completed his best round of the Olympics on the final day, scoring a 65 and finishing the Games in fourth place behind American bronze-winner Matt Kuchar.

Rajeev Ram, Tennis (doubles), USA

Rajeev Ram began his tennis career at Illinois in the 2002-2003 season and helped lead the team to an NCAA title. Ram almost added another first-place finish to his career in the Olympics. The former Illini paired up with renowned female tennis star Venus Williams to compete in mixed doubles play. The two began the tournament with a 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 10-8 win over the Netherlands’ Bertens Kiki and Rojer Jean-Julien to advance to the second round. The American pair then went on to beat the Italian duo of Roberta Vinci and Fabio Fognini to move on to the semifinals. Their next win secured them a medal and gave them a chance at gold. Ram and Williams went up against fellow Americans Jack Soch and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. In a close match, Soch and Mattek-Sands overcame a first-set defeat to claim gold. Ram and Williams received silver medals.

Andrew Riley, Track & Field (110-meter hurdles), Jamaica

Riley set multiple school records during his time at  Illinois, including a 13.28-second race in the 110-meter hurdles and a 10.02-second race in the 100-meter dash. He continued his record-setting races indoors, setting top times in the 60-meter hurdles and 60-meter dash. Riley raced in the 110-meter hurdles in the Rio Olympics. His first round score time of 13.52 seconds helped advance him into the semifinal round. Riley then posted a 13.46 race in the semifinal round, which was not enough to put him in the final. Omar McLeod, Orlando Ortega and Dimitri Bascou earned gold, silver and bronze, respectively.

Pedrya Seymour, Track & Field (100m hurdles), Bahamas

Pedrya Seymour is a current junior at Illinois who competes on the Bahamian national track team in the 100-meter hurdles. As a freshman, Seymour was named an All-American in the outdoor 100 hurdles and indoor 60-meter hurdles. In addition to her collegiate honors, Seymour is also the 100 hurdles’ record holder in the Bahamas. Seymour was born in Nassau, Bahamas.