Aug. 9, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Led by a trio of women’s soccer alums, the University of Notre Dame put a huge exclamation point on the most successful Olympic showing in Fighting Irish athletics history, as United States gold medalist Shannon Boxx (’99), and Canadian bronze medalists Candace Chapman (’05) and Melissa Tancredi (’04) all stood tall on the podium Thursday night at legendary Wembley Stadium in London, capping a sensational 2012 Olympic women’s soccer tournament.
With Thursday’s medal-winning trio, Notre Dame alums have collected a school-record five medals this year (one gold, four bronze), adding in a pair of bronze medals earned by senior fencer Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren) and alum Kelley Hurley (’10) in the women’s team epee competition. The Fighting Irish also had a record-setting 11 athletes take part in this year’s Summer Olympics, more than the nine representatives at both the 2004 Athens Games and 2008 Beijing Games, with Notre Dame athletes earning a then-record four medals at each of those Olympics.
Notre Dame athletes now have earned 13 medals in the past three Olympiads after collecting 11 medals combined in 16 prior Olympic Games (15 summer, one winter) that featured competitors with Fighting Irish ties, dating back to the 1912 Stockholm Olympics.
Boxx also claimed her own piece of history on Thursday, becoming the first Notre Dame athlete (and one of four women’s soccer players from any country) to earn three Olympic gold medals, one more than former U.S. teammate Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) and fencer Mariel Zagunis garnered in their careers. What’s more, Boxx’s three Olympic medals also tie her with Markgraf and Zagunis for the second-most by a Fighting Irish athlete behind only legendary track & field athlete/coach Alex Wilson (`32), who earned four medals in two Olympiads for his native Canada (bronze in 4×400-meter relay in both 1928 and 1932, as well as silver in the 800 meters and bronze in the 400 meters in 1932).
Boxx started and played all 90 minutes as the United States won its third consecutive Olympic gold medal (and fourth in five tries) with a 2-1 victory over Japan on Thursday night before a record crowd of 80,203 at Wembley Stadium in London. The former Notre Dame standout was making just her second appearance of these Olympics after being sidelined with a hamstring injury 17 minutes into the Americans’ opener against France (a 4-2 win on July 25), but Boxx showed few lingering effects from her injury, providing a calm and veteran presence at the critical holding midfield position for the United States, while allowing her midfield partner Carli Lloyd to push forward into an attacking role, leading to Lloyd’s decisive two goals for the Americans.
Meanwhile, Canada completed one of the most remarkable one-year turnarounds in international women’s soccer history, getting a goal in second-half injury time to defeat France, 1-0 in the bronze medal match on Thursday afternoon at City of Coventry Stadium in Coventry, England. Led by four goals from Tancredi and veteran leadership from Chapman, the Canadians, who went winless in three outings at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, not only posted their best-ever finish in an international tournament (topping their fourth-place showing at the 2003 World Cup), but they also earned Canada’s first Olympic medal in a traditional team sport (other than rowing or equestrian) since 1936, when the Canadian men’s basketball team took the silver medal at the Berlin Olympics.
Tancredi started and played into the 77th minute of Thursday’s bronze-medal match before departing, while Chapman came on as a substitute in the 84th minute, making her first appearance since suffering a calf injury late in Canada’s July 25 opener against Japan (a 2-1 loss). The Notre Dame duo are two of the cornerstone members of the Canadian Women’s National Team, with Chapman being one of six players in the nation’s history with at least 100 caps (Thursday was her 115th international appearance), while Tancredi garnered her 88th cap and started for the 72nd time. Tancredi also finished among the Olympic tournament scoring leaders with her four goals, two behind her Canadian teammate, Christine Sinclair in the race for the adidas Golden Boot.
COMING UP FRIDAY…
Former 10-time Notre Dame All-America distance runner Molly Huddle (’06) will look to put the final cap on a historic Olympiad for Fighting Irish athletes when she competes in the finals of the 5,000-meter run at 3:05 p.m. (ET) Friday at the Olympic Stadium in London. The race can be seen live on-line at nbcolympics.com and through the NBC Live Extra mobile app, with additional tape-delayed coverage on NBC’s late night wrap-up show beginning at 12:35 a.m. (ET) Saturday.
Huddle advanced to the medal race with a season-best time of 15:02.26 in Tuesday’s preliminary heats, and she comes into Friday’s final as the American record holder at 5,000 meters (14:44.76). Huddle also has a chance to post the best finish by a U.S. runner in the women’s 5,000-meter run, with the current top showing being ninth-place results by Lynn Jennings (1996) and Kara Goucher (2008).
For more information on Notre Dame participants at the 2012 London Olympics, visit the special Notre Dame Olympics microsite (und.com/olympics), the official London Olympics web site (london2012.com) or the official NBC Olympics web site (nbcolympics.com).
— ND —