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Six Brown athletes represented in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Hanna Barakat ’22, Janet Leung ’16, Cicely Madden ’18, Alex Miklasevich ’19, Jagger Stephens ’20, Anders Weiss ’15 competing on four different national teams in Olympics.

Five Brown alums and one current student are currently competing in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Hanna Barakat ’22, Janet Leung ’16, Cicely Madden ’18, Alex Miklasevich ’19, Jagger Stephens ’20 and Anders Weiss ’15 are participating in five different athletic events representing four different countries including Palestine, Canada, the United States and Guam in the Games. 

Representing Palestine in the women’s 100-meter sprint, Barakat has set four Brown records as a member of different relay teams and competed in the Ivy League championship in the 4x400-meter relay, the 60, the 200 and the 4x100 relay. Last month, she set the Palestinian national record in the 100, 200 and 400-meter sprints. 

The 100, Barakat said, “is sort of a perfectionist race in the sense that it's very short and every step counts. It’s also a mental race because you have to be tuned in for those 11 and a half seconds.” 

Barakat said that she feels honored to be able to use her passion for sprinting to bring more representation to Palestine in the Olympics. Having grown up half-Palestinian in the United States, Barakat said that her time at Brown has allowed her to develop a deeper connection to her Palestinian identity and inspired her, in part, to reach out to the Palestinian team. 

“I've been blessed with the opportunity to have access to a track, to have access to a very wonderful school that provides everything materially that I could need. And I have an opportunity here to represent Palestine, put (its) name on the map in these spaces and do it with pride,” she said. “And it's a huge responsibility. I do not take it lightly.” 

A second-time Olympian, Weiss will be rowing the Coxless Pair event for Team USA. At Brown, he rowed all four years and made varsity as a sophomore. According to Paul Cooke, head coach of men’s varsity crew, although Weiss was not the most outstanding rower on the team his freshman year, his determination and ability to perform well under pressure led to his later successes. 

“He's someone who really excels (in) the biggest moments when the most people are watching,” Cooke said. “He's won very big races here at Brown. He led our team to a bronze medal at the national championships in the stroke seat of the varsity eight. He was also in the eighth (seat) the next year when we finished second at the national championships. Those were crews that exceeded expectations … one of the reasons was that Anders shows up on big days.” 

Also representing the United States, Miklasevich will be rowing in the Men’s Eight in Tokyo. The first person to ever row all four years on the varsity eight at Brown, Miklasevich “was one of the strongest oarsmen in the United States when we recruited him to come to Brown,” said Cooke.  “You never expect anyone to go to the Olympics, but if you did, it was probably someone like Alex.” 

In addition to his athletic gifts, Cooke pointed to Miklasevich’s work ethic as a propeller of his success. Cooke recalled Miklasevich setting a goal for himself as a first-year to “spend more time on the ergometer than anyone else until (he) was the strongest freshman. And then when (he) was an upperclassman, (he) would spend more time on the ergometer than anyone else until (he) was the fastest guy on the team.”

“And he did both of those,” Cooke said. 

Madden will be rowing the women’s quadruple sculls for Team USA. At Brown, she rowed all four years in the varsity boat and, according to John Murphy, head coach of women’s crew, she benefited the team with a consistently positive attitude as well as her athletic gifts. “She was always cheerful,” he said. “No matter how difficult the workout or the practice or the race, she was upbeat and just had a great attitude and I think everybody respected her enormously for that.”

Murphy also recalled how Madden approached every challenge with confidence, pointing to a specific instance in which she faced a strong opponent in a race: “I said, ‘are you better than she is? Can you beat her?’” he remembered. “She said, ‘Yes, I can.’ She didn't get intimidated by anybody.” 

Stephens will represent Guam by swimming the 100-meter freestyle. At Brown, Stephens specialized in freestyle and butterfly and swam in the Ivy League Championships in the 50, 100 and 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly. 

Leung will represent Canada on its women’s softball team, playing shortstop. Leung’s team won a bronze medal against Mexico in their July 26 pre-Olympics tournament. Having competed in international games since 2013, she was one of the most outstanding players in Brown softball history and earned All-Ivy honors all four seasons as a Bear. 

Cooke said that the University’s representation in the Olympics this year is “part of a long tradition of success here at Brown.” Brown’s continued presence on the world athletic stage is a testament to the quality of the school’s program as well as the caliber of hard work demonstrated by the athletes themselves, Cooke added.

Barakat’s event will take place Thursday, July 29 at 8 p.m. EST. Miklasevich’s boat won third place in the repechage round Tuesday and will advance to the finals Thursday, July 29 at 9:25pm EST. 

Weiss’s boat in the men’s coxless four finished fifth in the finals which took place Tuesday, July 27. Madden’s boat won fourth place in the finals on Tuesday. Stephens finished second in Heat 2 of the preliminary round which took place Tuesday.



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