Five Rams are headed to Tokyo
published July 21, 2021
The flags of more than 200 countries will be on display during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, creating a cornucopia of color for the competitors and fans watching on various devices around the world.
But if you look closely, you will also see a bit of CSU green and gold in the midst of the two-week athletics showcase. That’s because five former or current Rams – thought to be the most in one single Olympics – will be competing alongside the world’s best athletes.
The CSU contingent – three in track and field and two in women’s basketball — represents four countries. A sixth Ram – Rugby 7s player Ben Pinkelman – was chosen to represent the U.S. for the second time but last week had to withdraw from the games due to persistent back pain that required surgery more than a year ago.
The only current Ram to qualify for Tokyo is senior-to-be Lauren Gale, who will be part of Canada’s 4×400-meter relay team. Gale, who was born in Canada and lived north of the border until her freshman year of high school, is a five-time Mountain West champion, holds school records for the indoor and outdoor 400 and was part of CSU’s school-record setting 4×400 relay team.
Current student Lauren Gale will be part of Canada’s 4×400-meter relay team.
Former two-time NCAA champion Mostafa Hassan will represent Egypt in the shot put. Hassan, who holds CSU’s indoor and outdoor shotput records, is ranked 16th in the world and is the reigning Egyptian champion and record holder. He is still mentored by Brian Bedard, CSU’s head track and field coach, who said Hassan has a good chance to make the finals in his first Olympics.
Another former Ram thrower, Shadae Lawrence, will throw the discus for her native Jamaica. Lawrence has been on a roll this year, shattering the Jamaican record by 2 meters at the USA Track and Field Championships in May.
CSU graduates Shadae Lawrence (left) will represent Jamaica and Mostafa Hassan will represent Egypt.
Bedard said Lawrence, like Hassan, has a solid shot at making the finals. She’s ranked 17th in the world.
Sisters Kim and Hanne Mestdagh will play on the Belgian women’s basketball team.
Kim Mestdagh, who ranks fourth on CSU’s all-time scoring list, won a WNBA title with the Washington Mystics in 2019 and is a key player for the Belgians, who are ranked fifth in the world entering the Games. Younger sister Hanne is a reserve on the team.
Sisters Hanne (left) and Kim Mestdagh, who both played on the CSU women’s basketball team, will represent Belgium at the Olympics.
Pinkelman underwent back surgery in 2019 and was on track to make his second appearance with Team USA, playing well throughout the spring and summer. But pain associated with two repaired fractured vertebrae forced him to withdraw.
The Tokyo Games begin Friday, July 23, and conclude Sunday, Aug. 8.