- December 30, 2021
The world was forced to wait an additional year for the Tokyo Olympics, but they have finally arrived.
Sarasota has four athletes competing in the games this year. Previously, the Observer has written viewing guides for two of them, skateboarder Jake Ilardi and shooter Mary Tucker. Before the games officially begin with Friday's opening ceremony, here is a sport and viewing guide for the final two Sarasota Olympians: swimmer Emma Weyant and rower Clark Dean.
Weyant, 19, graduated from Riverview High in 2020. She won four individual gold medals at the Florida High School Athletic Association state championships during her career. Weyant also swims with the Sarasota Sharks. She committed to the University of Virginia, but deferred her enrollment a year to focus on training for the Olympics. Her biggest breakthrough came at the 2019 Phillips 66 National Championships in Stanford, California, where she won the women's 400 individual medley (4:35.47).
She'll be swimming in that same event in Tokyo, the finals of which will be shown in prime time (9:30 p.m.) on Saturday on NBC.
Weyant won the event at the U.S. time trials (4:33.81) in June in Omaha, Nebraska, coming from behind to beat Hali Flickinger by 0.15 seconds. It is the fastest 400 IM time in the world heading into the Olympics. It is likely that one of a trio of Weyant, Flickinger and Melanie Margalis, who finished third (4:34.08), will take gold in Tokyo. It's possible that the trio sweeps all three medals; the best time by a non-U.S. swimmer in the event is by Hungary's Katinka Hosszu (4:34.76), who has the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.
Clark Dean, 21, attended Pine View School and rowed with Sarasota Crew before graduating high school in 2019. Dean now attends Harvard University. Though this is Dean's first Olympics, he is no stranger to performing on big stages. Dean won gold in the single sculls at the 2017 World Rowing Junior Championships in Trakai, Lithuania, becoming the first American to win the event in 50 years. He repeated as champion in 2018 in Račice, Czech Republic. In 2019, having advanced past the "junior" stage, Dean rowed in the men's four at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Ottensheim, Austria, helping the team to a fifth-place finish.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Dean will be back in the men's four alongside Anders Weiss, Michael Grady and Andrew Reed. The U.S. has not won a gold medal in the event since 1960 and the team's most recent medal in the event, a bronze, was won in 2012. Of the four, only Weiss has Olympic experience. He rowed in the men's pair in the 2016 Rio games, finishing 11th.
With changes from boat to boat, rowing events are tough to predict, but the biggest gold medal threat is thought to be Britain, which won the event at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and at the 2021 European Championships.
Watching Dean compete will be slightly more complicated than watching Weyant. The preliminary races will begin Thursday at approximately 10:30 p.m., but they will only be shown live on NBCOlympics.com. A replay of the heats will be shown at noon Friday on NBC Sports Network. Heats and repechages will continue through Monday, when the men's four finals will be held at approximately 9 p.m. on NBCOlympics.com.
For a full television schedule of rowing, swimming and other events, visit NBCOlympics.com.