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Local athletes make Sarasota proud at Tokyo Olympics

Two of Sarasota's four athletes at the Olympics are coming home with hardware.

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When Sarasota's athletes return from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they will not be empty-handed. 

Two athletes have earned medals at the games and one has a chance for more.

The highlights began on Saturday night — Sunday morning in Tokyo — as swimmer Emma Weyant, 19, earned a silver medal in the Women's 400-meter Individual Medley

Weyant, who attended Riverview High and also swam with the Sarasota Sharks, entered the event's finals as the top qualifier — she swam the event in 4:33.55, more than a second faster than anyone else. Weyant managed to best that time in the finals, setting a new personal record with a 4:32.76 swim. 

It wasn't enough to win gold thanks to a near-perfect swim from Japan's Yui Ohashi, who finished in 4:32.08, 0.68 seconds better than Weyant.

If Weyant was disappointed by her finish, she didn't show it. 

“Honestly, this is crazier than anything I could have dreamed,” Weyant said in a post-race interview on NBC. “I’m just so happy to be here with the best in the world. It’s so much fun.” 

On Tuesday, shooter Mary Tucker joined Weyant as Olympians from Sarasota bringing home a medal. Tucker and her partner, Lucas Kozeniesky, took a silver medal in the Mixed 10-meter Air Rifle.

Tucker, a Sarasota Military Academy grad and a national champion at the University of Kentucky, previously finished sixth in the Women’s 10-meter Air Rifle at the Olympics. She’s not quite done, either. Tucker will compete in the Women’s 50-meter Rifle 3-Positions on Friday night. Qualification will begin at 11 p.m., and the finals will begin at approximately 3 a.m.  

“I’ve been treating this as just another competition,” Tucker said during a press conference after her silver-medal performance. “Luckily, I had a great partner who has been to the Olympics before. He's been very helpful and everyone at home has been very supportive. I think the biggest challenge is that everyone here is competing at a very high level. 

Mary Tucker and her partner, Lucas Kozeniesky, took a silver medal in the Mixed 10-meter Air Rifle. Photo courtesy UK Athletics.
Mary Tucker and her partner, Lucas Kozeniesky, took a silver medal in the Mixed 10-meter Air Rifle. Photo courtesy UK Athletics.

“I’m going to keep doing the same thing that I have been doing (for the Rifle 3-Positions event). It’s a little more difficult because I haven’t been able to practice with this gun specifically for the last week or so. But I've had a lot of training that I trust from home, so I'm going to do what I always do.”

Not every Olympian from Sarasota will return with hardware, but those who will not accomplished something anyway. Rower Clark Dean helped the Men’s Four to a spot in the event’s finals and, once there, to a fifth-place finish (5:48.85), 6.09 seconds behind gold-medal winner Australia. It was a tough assignment; the U.S. has not earned any medals in the Men’s Four since 2012. 

Skateboarder Jake Ilardi also drew a tough assignment: competing in the first-ever Street skateboard competition in Olympic history. Ilardi qualified 11th out of 20 skaters at the event; unfortunately for Ilardi, only the top eight advanced to the finals. Ilardi had a chance to advance thanks to high scores in the individual trick stage of qualifying, but ultimately could not land enough tricks to make up for scores of 6.85 and 6.75 on his initial two runs. The event was eventually won by Japan’s Yuto Horigome. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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