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Athletes with Mississippi ties heading to the Paris Olympics

Photo courtesy of Paris 2024

As the 2024 Summer Olympic Games begin this week, nearly 20 Mississippi athletes are gearing up to represent their home countries. Here’s a breakdown of those with Mississippi ties competing in Paris from July 26 to Aug. 11.

Sam Kendricks | Oxford, MS (Ole Miss) | Men’s Pole Vault | USA 

Kendricks will compete in his second Olympics after earning a bronze medal in the 2016 Paris games. The 2017 and 2019 Men’s Pole Vault World champion also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics but was unable to compete after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Shelby McEwen | Abbeville, MS (Ole Miss) | Men’s High Jump | USA 

The two-time SEC champion and first-team All-American at Ole Miss will compete in his second straight Olympics after finishing 12th at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. McEwen was perfect in his Olympic Trials appearance, winning the event without missing a jump. 

Devin Booker | Moss Point, MS | Men’s Basketball | USA 

After winning a gold medal with Team USA in 2020, the three-time NBA All Star returns to the Olympics with another podium finish in his sights.  

Curtis Thompson | Mississippi State | Men’s Javelin Throw | USA 

Thompson qualified for his second straight Olympic Games by throwing 83.04 meters in the Olympic Trials. The former Bulldog finished 21st in the 2020 Olympics. 

Navasky Anderson | Mississippi State | 800m | Jamaica 

Anderson will make his Olympic debut in Paris after winning the 2024 Jamaican Championship in the 800m race. He holds the Jamaican national record in both the outdoor and indoor 800m, along with finishing as the NCAA national runner-up for Mississippi State in 2022. 

Marco Arop | Mississippi State | 800m | Canada 

Arop reached the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career in 2023 and set an Athletics Canada Championships record of 1:43:52 in the 800m to qualify for Paris. In his second Olympic Games, he’ll look to win gold for the first time after winning the 2023 World Athletics Championship in the 800m event. 

Nuno Borges | Mississippi State | Men’s Singles & Doubles Tennis | Portugal 

The former No.1 ranked NCAA men’s singles & doubles tennis player has competed on tennis biggest stages including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open, and now adds representing his home county in an Olympic debut to the list. 

Lee Eppie | Mississippi State | 4x400m Relay | Botswana 

As a part of Botswana’s relay pool, Eppie helped his team clock a then-world-leading time of 2:59:11 in the 4x400m relay during the 2024 World Athletics Relays. In his time at Mississippi State, he ran on four of the five fastest indoor 4x400m relays in school history. 

Ilana Izquierdo | Mississippi State | Women’s Soccer | Colombia 

A current midfielder for the Mississippi State women’s soccer team, Izquierdo is just the 11th Bulldog to make an Olympic team as an active student-athlete. She debuted with the Colombian senior Women’s National Team earlier this year in the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup where she started every match. Izquierdo began her collegiate career at Southern Miss. 

Catalina Perez | Mississippi State | Women’s Soccer | Colombia 

The former Mississippi State goalkeeper will compete in her second career Olympics with Colombia after playing in the Rio 2016 Games. Perez has won gold with Colombia at the Pan American Games, along with reaching the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the team. 

Anderson Peters | Mississippi State | Men’s Javelin | Grenada 

Peters returns to the Olympics after competing in the 2020 Tokyo Games. He became just second man ever to win back-to-back world championships in the javelin after winning in 2019 and 2022. He’s also coming off the latest of four Grenadian championships that came earlier this year. 

Ahlana Smith | Mississippi State | Women’s Basketball | Puerto Rico

Smith is making history in more than one way in her Olympic debut. She is the first women’s basketball Bulldog to compete in the Olympics, the first student-athlete to compete for Puerto Rico, and she also makes a school record total of nine Olympic athletes from Mississippi State.

Mario Garcia Romo | Ole Miss | 1500m Track | Spain 

The Spaniard will make his Olympic debut after a highly successful stretch on other world stages. Garcia Romo won the 2023 1500m Spanish national title with a personal best time of 3:35:52, as well as collecting a bronze medal at the European Championships in the same year.  

Shu Ohba | Ole Miss | Women’s Soccer | Japan 

Before competing in her senior year campaign in Oxford, Ohba will head to Paris as an alternate for the Japanese Women’s National Team. The Fujisawa, Japan native was named 2023 All-SEC Second Team, 2023 United Soccer Coaches All-Southeast, and notched the fifth-lowest single-season Goals Against Average in program history. 

Rafaelle Souza | Ole Miss | Women’s Soccer | Brazil 

Before graduating from Ole Miss in 2014, Souza set goal-scoring records in Oxford on her way to a high-flying professional career with Arsenal in the English Premier League. Souza led the way for the Brazilian National Team at the 2023 World Cup. She competed in her first Olympics in 2016, making the 2024 Paris Games her third Olympic appearance.  

Sintayehu Vissa | Ole Miss | Women’s Track & Field | Italy 

Vissa qualifies for her first Olympic games in 2024 after foregoing the rest of her collegiate eligibility at Ole Miss to sign a professional contract in 2022. Her two years as a Rebel solidified her as one of the best to ever do it for Ole Miss women’s track. She was a five-time All-American in both cross country and track, punctuated by an outdoor national title in the 1500m race and two SEC championships.  

Barnabus Aggerh | William Carey | 100m dash | Ghana 

After just one year of competing as a college athlete, the freshman Crusader’s career is off to an illustrious start. He won the NAIA 100m Outdoor National Title earlier this year and will make his Olympics debut in Paris. 

According to The Sport Geek, Mississippi ranks as the 20th most decorated state for Olympic success in America since the Games inception in 1896, including 11 gold medals won by natives. 

Opening ceremonies for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics are set for Friday, July 26 at 12:30 CT. However, group play for some sports will begin as early as Wednesday, July 24. The full schedule of events can be found here

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