Our Olympians

Join us for a look celebrating Columbia University's own Olympians, going back over 30 years.  The impressive list includes two siblings who both won silver medals in 2008, the three-time Olympian who took home the gold when she was studying law at Columbia, and this year's Olympians heading to Rio: a student, three alums, and a coach.  


Stay tuned for more about Columbia and the Olympics, including reflections from previous medalists we'll be interviewing and publishing here on The Low Down, and insight into Brazil from the Columbia Club of Rio.

Celebrating Columbia's 2016 Olympians:


Katie Meili '13CC
2016 Swimming

Katie Meili could have swum in the 2012 Summer Olympics. But 20 days before the Olympic Trials, the record-breaking Columbia swimmer broke her hand during a swim meet warm-up. Four years later, she is set to represent the U.S. (and Columbia University) in Rio de Janairo.  Read her senior profile here.

Akua Obeng-Akrofi '18CC
2016 Track

Columbia rising junior Akua Obeng-Akrofi is set to be part of the Ghanian 4x100m relay team at the Rio Olympics. "Track is a sport that is mostly mental and I think that being surrounded by and competing against the top professional athletes will definitely give me the experience I need to strengthen my mental approach," Obeng-Akrofi said. "When I run in meets for Columbia, I can think, 'I've done this before on an even larger scale' and just run my race." Read more.

Nzingha Prescod '15CC
2012, 2016 Fencing

Recent alumna Nzingha Prescod will make her second-straight Olympic appearance for the United States after taking 22nd overall in the individual event in 2012 and this year will return to the strip looking to take home a medal. The Brooklyn native has been breaking boundaries in the world of fencing as she became the first U.S. women’s foil fencer to win a grand prix title in 2013 and in 2015 became the first African American woman to win an individual medal at the Senior World Championships. Read more.

Akhnaten Spencer-El
2000, 2016 Fencing

No stranger to the Olympics after competing for the United States in Sydney in 2000, Spencer-El will head to Rio this August on the other side of the strip as he joins the U.S. coaching staff in hopes of taking home a medal. For the past three years, Spencer-El has served as the sabre coach for the Columbia fencing team where he has witnessed two-straight NCAA Team Championship titles, three men’s Ivy League Championship titles and a pair of women’s Ivy League Championship titles. Over those three seasons, Spencer-El has helped coach seven All-Americans and twelve All-Ivy League honors in sabre. Read more.

Isadora Cerullo '13CC
2016 Rugby

Cerullo is a member of Brazil's first Olympic rugby team. According to The Globe and Mail, she is one of 19 athletics recruited globally to join her country's largest-ever Olympic delegation. Cerullo won the bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games as a member of the Brazil women's national rugby sevens team. Read more


Columbians at the Olympics, 1984-2012


Amr Aly '85CC 
1984 Soccer

The 1984 Hermann Award winner as the nation’s best collegiate soccer player, Aly was among a core group of players who made Columbia soccer a dominant force from the late 1970's through the mid-1980's.  Read more.

Dave Barry '87CC

2012 Wrestling

Leader of the U.S. Greco-Roman Wrestling Team in the 2012 Olympics, Barry has over the years been an avid supporter of the sport of wrestling at the global level. Read more.

Katy Bilodeau ‘87CC

A two-time Olympian fencer, Bilodeau holds the honor of being the first-ever recipient of Columbia University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Athletes and has been noted to be one of the most accomplished fencers in Columbia history. Read more.

Sasha Cohen '16GS
2006 Figure Skating

The 2006 Olympic silver medalist for figure skating, a three-time World Championship medalist, the 2003 Grand Prix Final Champion, and the 2006 U.S. Champion. Read an interview about her time at Columbia University here.

Caryn Davies '13LAW
2004, 2008, 2012 Rowing

Three-time Olympian Caryn Davies added to her collection of medals while still studying at Columbia Law School; her U.S. rowing team won the women's eight in London in 2012. It was Davies' second gold medal and third medal overall—Caryn's team also captured gold in the women's eight in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver in Athens in 2004. Read more.

Trent Dimas '92GS
1992 Gymnastics 

Trent won gold on the horizontal bar at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona; the only Hispanic American ever to win gold on the horizontal bar. Of his time at Columbia's School of General Studies, he said "so far, coming to Columbia has been like having an Olympic coach training me in academics." Read more.

Scott Donie

1992, 1996 Diving

Having represented Team USA in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, Donie – an Olympic silver medalist –  was recently named the new Head Coach of Columbia Diving. Read more.

Jed Dupree '01CC
2004 Fencing

William Jedediah "Jed" Dupree, one of the finest fencers in Columbia’s storied history, returned to Morningside Heights in 2005 as a graduate assistant coach after competing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  Read more.

Sherif Farrag '09CC
2012 Fencing

Sherif represented Egypt at the 2012 Summer Olympics for fencing, which occurred during Ramadan. Read an interview about Sherif's choice between training and fasting in preparation for the most competitive games in the world. 

Timothy Goebel '10GS

2002 Figure Skating

Known as the 'Quad King' for being the first person to land a quadruple salchow in competition and the first to land three quadruple jumps in one program, Goebel won a bronze medal for figure skating at the 2002 Olympics. Read more.

Erison Hurtault '07CC
2008, 2012 Track

Erison is the fastest 400-meter sprinter in Columbia history (as of this 2007 New York Times article) and an indoor track all-American. He swept the event in each of the seven Ivy League championship meets of his career.

Emily Jacobson '08CC
2004 Fencing

Emily Jacobson competed in the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 during her freshman year at Columbia College, where she was also studying ancient Greek texts in the Core Curriculum.  She went on to become the captain of Columbia's celebrated fencing team. Read more.

Dan Kellner '98CC
2004 Fencing

"The Opening Ceremony was one of the most amazing experiences of my life," says Dan Kellner of his time at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Read more.

Dominik Koll '15GS
2004 Swimming

Koll made his Olympic debut at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, competing (for Austria) in the men's 200 m freestyle. Koll cruised to fourth place and twenty-fifth overall. Read more.

Nick Lacava ’09CC

2012 Rowing

A member of the U.S. Rowing Team in the 2012 Olympics, Lacava placed 8th in the men’s lightweight four. Having studied economics during his time at Columbia, Lacava is the co-founder of Chocomize, the first American chocolate company where customers can create and customize their own chocolate bar. Read more.

Lauren McFall '08GS 

2004 Synchronized Swimming

A member of the U.S. synchronized swimming team, Lauren took home a bronze medal in 2004 prior to enrolling in the School of General Studies, where she became a classmate with her fellow Olympic team member, Kendra Zanotto. 

Caroline Nichols-Nelson

2008 & 2012 Field Hockey

Having competed for Team USA in Field Hockey in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Nichols-Nelson has served as head coach of Columbia Field Hockey since May 2015 where she has since used her expertise and experience to train and mentor students. Read more.

Nicole Ross ‘11CC

2012 Fencing

An avid fencer since the age of nine, Ross competed in the London Olympics in 2012 and has since worked as a program coordinator for Win4Youth at Adecco. Read more.

Erin Smart '01BC

2004, 2008, Fencing

Erinn Smart is a a five-time national champion and has competed in three Olympic Games, bringing home the silver medal in 2008, the same year her brother, fellow Columbian Keeth Smart '10BUS also won a silver medal. Read more.

Keeth Smart '10BUS
2004, 2008 Fencing

An Olympic silver medalist (something he shares in common with his sister, Erinn Smart '01BC), Keeth Smart was hailed in The New York Times as "the personification of American fencing" after competing in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games.  Read more.  

Jeff Spear ‘10CC

2012 Fencing

A member of the U.S. Fencing Team in the 2012 Olympics, Spear also holds the honor of being the 2010 Salutatorian of Columbia College. Read more.

Lisa Stublic ‘06CC

2012 Marathon

Having discovered her knack for endurance running only after graduating from Columbia in 2006, Stublic holds the honor of being the first marathoner to compete in the Olympics on Croatia’s behalf. Read more.

Cristina Teuscher '00CC
1996, 2000 Swimming

Cristina Teuscher was a member of the U.S. women's relay team that won gold in the 4x200-m freestyle at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Later, as captain of the U.S. women's team, she won bronze in the 200-m individual medley at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Read more.

Jenny Thompson '06PS
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 Swimming

Jenny Thompson has more Olympic medals than any other American athlete*, but her newest piece of neckwear is a stethoscope bestowed by Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons.  But she’s best known for her Olympic record. In the four Olympiads from 1992 through 2004, Thompson captured eight gold medals, the most for any U.S. woman athlete, and 12 medals in all, the most for any American*.
*As of the time of this Columbia Magazine article.

Soren Thompson '16BUS

2004, 2012 Fencing

Fencing since the age of seven, Thompson is a two-time Olympian and winner of the 2012 World Fencing Championships for the team epee event. He is both a Princeton and Columbia alum and has degrees in art and architecture and business. Read more. 

Steven Trevor '86CC

1984, 1988 Fencing 

Trevor competed in both individual and team events during the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. While at Columbia, he studied psychology and political science and later on attended Harvard Business School for his M.B.A. 

James Williams '07CC, '09GSAS
2008, 2012 Fencing

James Williams was an alternate in Beijing in 2008, where he was called in to help the US win silver in fencing, and then returned to the 2012 Olympics in London. Read a 2012 interview in Columbia's own student BWOG, also featuring 2012 team alternate and Columbia alumnus Jeff Spears '10CC.

Kendra Zanotto '08GS

2004 Synchronized Swimming 

A member of the U.S. synchronized swimming team, Kendra took home a bronze medal in 2004 prior to enrolling in the School of General Studies, where she became a classmate with her fellow Olympic team member, Lauren McFall. 

Did we miss anyone?  Please send us an email at [email protected] with information about Olympic Columbians.  Celebrate Columbians and others from the Ivy League at Rio by using #IviesinRio on social media.

Suggested Reading:

Events in Brazil occurring contemporaneously with the 2016 Rio Olympic Games are having an enormous impact well beyond the nation's borders. Each of these subjects—from water quality and the Zika virus to Brazil's economy and the country's historic political upheaval—is challenging in its complexity. Here we have created a roster of Columbia faculty members identifiable by their subject matter expertise to help provide context and the objective insight for understanding these issues.

Columbia in Rio: