Scott Rabalais: With one year until start of Paris Olympics, here are LSU athletes to watch

Scott Rabalais: With one year until start of Paris Olympics, here are LSU athletes to watch
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One year from Wednesday, the 2024 Olympics begin in Paris.

Un an Mercredi, les jeux Olympiques 2024 commencent à Paris.

Or something like that. If some fluent French-speaking reader doesn’t write in to correct me, I will be very disappointed (très déçu).

Actually, it would be more accurate to say the opening ceremonies in Paris are next July 26. The competition actually starts two days before with preliminaries in men’s soccer and rugby. Both tournaments take so long to complete they have to get started early (the games conclude Aug. 11).

However you count the days, the clock is ticking toward a grand spectacle. Instead of athletes marching into the main Olympic stadium, 10,000 competitors will be loaded onto boats and will float down the Seine with both banks of the iconic river packed with fans like baguettes in a bakery. It will be the Olympics’ first return to the City of Light since 1924, with a few other venues such as soccer throughout France, sailing in Marseille and surfing half a world away in Tahiti.

Here’s a small sampling of the athletes with Louisiana and LSU ties hoping to take part — and to win — in the Olympics next July and August:

Mondo Duplantis, pole vault: The Lafayette native and former LSU Tiger remains the best in the world in his event and after winning gold in the Tokyo Olympics two years ago, and he promises to be one of the stars of the Paris Games. The world record holder both indoors at 20.41 feet and outdoors at 20.37 feet will compete once again for Sweden (his mother is Swedish and he has dual citizenship)

Konnor McClain, gymnastics: Talk about degree of difficulty. The LSU signee plans to enroll in August and compete for the Tigers during the 2024 season while also training for an elite-level run at one of five hotly contested spots on the U.S. team. If anyone can do it, it’s McClain, who won the all-around title at the 2022 U.S. championships. Also attempting to make the U.S. team will be LSU recruit Zoe Miller, who is deferring the start of her LSU career until 2025. LSU junior Aleah Finnegan will try to make it representing The Philippines.

JuVaughn Harrison, jumper: The former LSU Tiger they call “Mr. Jumps” is also ranked No. 1 in the world in the high jump. The Huntsville, Alabama, native has two wins this season, including a victory Sunday in London with a leap of 7.71 feet, and a victory earlier this month in the USA championships in Eugene, Oregon. He also finished third in the long jump in Eugene.

Sha’Carri Richardson, sprinter: After missing a spot on the U.S. team for the Tokyo Olympics because she tested positive for marijuana, Richardson has roared back to be one of the world’s top female sprinters — though she pulled out of her most recent race in London because of a hamstring issue. July 6 she ran the fastest time this year in the women’s 100 meters (10.71 seconds), only to have her mark eclipsed one day later by Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (10.65). Still, Richardson is the top-ranked American in the 100 at No. 4 in the world, just ahead of …

Aleia Hobbs, sprinter: The fellow LSU alum and New Orleans native clocks in at No. 5 in the world with a season-best time of 10.86 in the 100 in April at Bernie Moore Track Stadium, and a wind-legal career best of 10.81 in June 2022 in Eugene. A two-time NCAA champion and Olympic silver medalist on the U.S. 4×100 relay team in Tokyo, Hobbs will have a chance to make a big pre-Olympic splash next month at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth, beach volleyball: Nuss, from New Orleans, and Kloth, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have been playing together exclusively since 2021 when they went 36-0 on Court 1 at LSU and earned national pair of the year honors. As professionals, they are ranked No. 3 in the world and No. 2 in the U.S. behind Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng. By the way, the beach volleyball venue in Paris will be in the Champ de Mars park with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. Magnifique.

Maggie Mac Neil, swimming: Mac Neil spent just one season at LSU but made a (pardon the pun) huge splash with a collegiate record in the 50-yard freestyle at the 2023 NCAA championships (20.79 seconds). Monday, she earned a silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly in the world championships in Japan, an event she won in the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. That gold medal is one of three for the Canadian from London, Ontario: Mac Neil won silver in the 4×100 freestyle relay and bronze in the 4×100 medley relay. Still training in Baton Rouge, she will look to add to her Olympic medal collection next summer.

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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