Aug. 12, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The International Olympic Committee awarded the first medal of the 2016 Rio Olympics with Notre Dame ties Friday as former Irish foil star Gerek Meinhardt helped lead the United States men’s foil team to bronze against top-seeded Italy.

Meinhardt’s was one of two standout performances by former Irish student-athletes Friday, as American distance runner Molly Huddle shattered the American record in the women’s 10,000 meter race, finishing sixth in the fasted women’s 10K in history.

Meinhardt out-touched his opponents 12-1 in his final two bouts of the bronze medal match, giving the U.S. the lead for good after trailing 20-17 after four rounds of the nine-round battle. He scored eight straight hits in his second bout to help his team to a 25-20 lead that only ballooned from there.

Huddle ran the fastest 10,000 meters in U.S. women’s history with a 30:13.17 performance, besting Shalane Flanagan’s 30:22.22 mark set at the 2008 Beijing games. The top four finishers in the race came in at under 30 minutes when only four women had ever accomplished the feat previously. Ethiopian gold medalist Almaz Ayana smashed the previous world record by 14 seconds.

Another pair Irish alums will look to bring home hardware Saturday as Amanda Polk and the U.S. women’s eights rowers hit the water in the medal round. The U.S. will take off at 10:06 a.m. ET (online streaming). Back on the fencing strip, Mariel Zagunis and the U.S. women’s sabre squad begin their team medal pursuit in a quarterfinal match against Poland at 9 a.m. ET (MSNBC).

Also in action Saturday are Margaret Bamgbose, who will run for Nigeria in the preliminary heat of the women’s 400 meters at 10 a.m ET (NBCSN), while Angie Akers and the Netherlands beach volleyball team play in a Round of 16 match against Switzerland at 7 p.m. ET (online streaming)

Yesterday | August 12

Gerek Meinhardt helped lead the U.S. to a 45-31 victory over Italy in the bronze medal match as the U.S. foil squad took home its first team medal since the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Meinhardt gave the Americans the lead for good in the fifth round (of nine), scoring eight straight touches against Andrea Baldini to put the U.S. up 25-20. It was Meinhardt’s first Olympic medal in three appearances.

–After sweeping the 5,000 and 10,000 races at the 2016 U.S. Trials, Molly Huddle crushed her own American record in the Olympic 10,000 meters in 30:13.17 (prev. 30:22.22), finishing sixth in one of the fastest 10,000-meter races in history. Four racers finished with sub-30-minute times, with gold medalist Almaz Ayana smashing the world record with her finish of 29:17.45 (prev. 29:31.78)

-The U.S. women’s basketball team dealt Natalie Achonwa and Canada their first loss of the tournament, 81-51. Achonwa finished with six points and three rebounds.

– Melissa Tancredi and the Canadian women’s soccer team will advance to the Olympic semifinal after defeating France 1-0 in the first knockout round. Tancredi did not play in Friday’s match after scoring both of Canada’s goals in its previous game against Germany. Canada and Germany will meet again in the Olympic semifinal at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday.

-The American men’s basketball team, guided in part by assistant coach Monty Williams, outlasted Serbia 94-91 to remain undefeated in Group A.

Today | August 13

-Amanda Polk will get back on the water as a part of the Team USA women’s eights rowing medal round. The Americans will be in Lace 3 at Lagoa Stadium at 10:06 a.m. going for the gold with coverage available online at

-Mariel Zagunis will be participating in the fencing team sabre competition at Carioca Arena 3. Team USA will begin its march to a potential gold medal with a 9 a.m. ET quarterfinal match against Poland (MSNBC).

-Margaret Bamgbose will be running for Nigeria as competition begins at 10 a.m. in the 400 meters. Bamgbose will run in the third of eight heats in lane 2 at Olympic Stadium to whittle the field down to a field of semifinalists for Sunday evening. The third heat is tentatively scheduled to go off at 10:14 a.m. ET (NBCSN).

-Angie Akers will lead the Netherlands beach volleyball duo of Marleen van Iersel and Madelein Mappelink in their Round of 16 match against Switzerland at 7 p.m. ET (online streaming).

Tomorrow | August 14

-Monty Williams and the USA men’s basketball team will close out preliminary play against France at 1:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN).

-Natalie Achnowa and the Canadian women’s basketball team will face Spain in the final game of pool play at 4:45 p.m. ET (online streaming)

-Should she advance, Margaret Bamgbose will compete in the semifinals of the 400 meters at 7:15 p.m. ET (online streaming).

-The beach volleyball quarterfinals are set for Sunday should Angie Akers and the Netherlands defeat Switzerland on Saturday evening.

Complete schedules for when the athletes with Notre Dame ties will be competing can be found at Join the conversation on social media and support the Irish using #OlympicND.

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— ND —

Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.