Volympians – Competitors



Rhian WilkinsonWilkinson, 25, and her Canadian women’s soccer team lost 2-1 in overtime to the No. 1 ranked U.S. in the quarterfinals.

Wilkinson, who graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a degree in speech communications, was born and raised in Quebec, Canada.

She played soccer for UT from 2000 to 2003. She has played professionally for the Ottawa Fury and the Strommen Fotball Klubb in the Norwegian Premier League. Beijing was her first Olympics.



Octavio AlesiAlesi, a senior in interdisciplinary programs, competed for his homeland, Venezuela. He was seventh in his preliminary heat in the butterfly and didn’t qualify for the finals. He qualified for the 2008 Olympics by posting a time of 52.24 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly in the Pan Am Games. That time ranked him 19th in the world.

In April 2008, Alesi was named to the 2008 SEC Men’s Swimming and Diving Community Service Team. The team honors student athletes who give back to the community through superior service efforts.


Andrew BreeFormer University of Tennessee swimmer Andrew Bree, 27, represented his home country, Ireland. Although he beat his own 200-meter breaststroke record, his time was not good enough to get into the finals.

This was Bree’s second Olympics. He competed in the 2000 games in Sydney but did not qualify for the Athens games.


Fabiola MolinaMolina, who graduated from UT Knoxville in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in theater, represented Brazil in the Beijing games.

She finished fifth in her 100-meter backstroke preliminary heat and 18th overall in the event.

This was her second trip to the Olympics. She finished 24th in the 100-meter backstroke and 36th in the 100-meter butterfly at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Molina was a five-time All-American at UT.

Molina, who has been swimming competitively since age 10, is also a businesswoman and has designed her own line of Brazilian swimwear.


Jonas PerssonPersson, a senior in marketing and international business from Malmo, Sweden, competed for Sweden. He failed to advance in the freestyle, and his relay team placed fifth in the finals.

Persson swam his freshman and sophomore seasons for ­Arizona, transferred to UT, and started swimming for the Vols during the 2007 season.

At UT, Persson broke UT’s 100-meter freestyle record three consecutive times at the NCAA Championships last year. He was the SEC Swimmer of the Week twice last year.


Jevon TarantinoTarantino and his partner, Chris Colwill, finished fourth in the 3-meter synchronized diving event. It was his first Olympics.

“Everything hurts more when it’s that close,” Tarantino told the Palm Beach Post afterward.

Tarantino attended UT Knoxville and won the NCAA and SEC titles for 1-meter springboard diving in 2004. He left UT Knoxville in 2005 because of health problems.



Jangy AddyAddy, representing Liberia, finished 20th in a field of 40 competitors in the decathlon.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and electronic media in May and starts graduate school in sports sociology in January 2009.

Addy, born in Sacramento, California, was eligible to represent Liberia because he is a direct descendant of two ­Liberian citizens. “It was an honor competing for Liberia,” he said. “The country is in a rebuilding process, so for the people to see ­athletes representing them really brought a sense of pride and hope to the nation. I received so much support from Liberians. I received support from everyone—UT, my friends and family, and people all across America. It was just a great experience.”

A team captain at UT and an SEC ­Scholar-­Athlete of the Year, he set a collegiate decathlon record in the 110-meter hurdles and a world heptathlon record in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2008 SEC Outdoor Championships.

Addy says he plans to continue training in grad school and would enjoy competing in the 2012 games in London.


Anthony FamigliettiA three-time All-American track and field star at UT, Famiglietti finished 13th in the steeplechase in Beijing. This was the 2001 psychology graduate’s second time in the games.

The 3,000-meter steeplechase involves hurdles and water jumps. He finished eighth in the first round of the steeplechase in Athens in the 2004 Olympics.

The tattooed and bearded Famiglietti is a colorful character in the track and field world. According to his profile on NBC’s Olympic Web site, Famigliettei’s childhood dream was to become a professional skateboarder, but he suffered so many injuries—including concussions and broken bones—that his family made him give it up.


Gary KikayaKikaya, 28, was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and represented that country in the Beijing Olympics. He finished fifth in his semifinal heat of the 400-meter run and failed to qualify for the finals.

This was his second Olympics. He was his country’s flag bearer in Athens in 2004 but finished 14th in the semifinals.

Kikaya graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a major in sociology and a minor in French. He earned seven All-America honors while lettering for the Vols in 2002 and 2003.


Tom PappasCompeting in the decathlon, a two-day competition consisting of 10 track and field events, Pappas clocked 11.12 seconds in the 100-meter and attempted one long jump before withdrawing because of a foot injury. This was his third time to qualify. In 2000, in Sydney, he finished fifth. Four years later in Athens, he was an incoming favorite, but a foot injury forced him to drop out then, too.

Pappas, 31, graduated from UT Knoxville in 2000 with a degree in recreation and leisure studies. He is now an assistant track and field coach for jumps and combined events at Kansas State University.


Leigh SmithSmith finished 18th in the javelin in Beijing, his first Olympic appearance.

He graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a degree in wildlife and fisheries biology. While at UT, Smith was a three-time All-American and a three-time Southeastern Conference champion. He holds every Tennessee and Southeastern Conference championship record in the event and was named Tennessee’s Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year for 2003–04.


Dee Dee TrotterPlagued by a knee injury, Trotter—who graduated from UT Knoxville in 2005 with a degree in sociology—failed to advance to the finals in the 400-meter race. Her time was 51.87.

She suffered a chipped bone in her left leg when a car door closed on her last spring. Despite that, Trotter finished third in the Olympic trials, running her race in
50.88 seconds.

In 2004, at the Athens games, she won a gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay. In addition, she has a gold medal from the 2003 Pan Am Games and the 2003 World Championships.


J.J. ClarkClark, UT Lady Vols track coach, has been a coach at six Olympics. The winningest women’s cross country coach in UT ­history, the 2005 United States Track Coaches Association National Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, and two-time SEC Track & Field Coach of the Year, he led Tennessee to the NCAA Indoor Championship in 2005 and SEC Indoor Championships in track and field in 2005 and 2007.

Clark was chosen by the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Track and Field to be an assistant coach at the 2008 games. The venues have changed, but one thing has remained constant about the events: “It’s really a pleasure watching top athletes, watching their commitment and being around people who know what it takes to win,” he says.


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