Many former Cougar standouts performed at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens in several sports and events. Here are the highlights from their performances broken down by each sport.
Former BYU gymnast Guard Young helped the United States men's gymnastics team earn a silver medal in the Summer Olympics. The United States finished just behind Japan while Romania took bronze.
After a big performance stepping up as the last-minute replacement for teammate Blaine Wilson on pommel horse in the preliminary round, Young got Team USA off to a strong start in the medal round with a solid performance in the floor exercise. As the first American competitor in its first event of the medal competition, Young stuck his routine for a 9.700 score. With only three gymnasts competing on each of the six events during the medal round, Young also competed on still rings and vault.
Ryan Millar helped the USA men's volleyball team finish fourth place in the 2004 games in Athens. The team won three matches in pool play, qualifying for the medal round.
The highlight of the tournament came in the first round of medal play when the US played Greece. After falling behind two games to one, and trailing 20-12 in the fourth, the US staged a furious comeback to win the game and the match, advancing to the semifinals against Brazil.
In the semifinals, USA fell to Brazil and went on to play Russia for the bronze medal. The Russians overmatched the Americans, sending Team USA to a fourth place finish. Despite the disappointment of ending another Olympic games without a medal, the result in 2004 was a big improvement over the eleventh place finish in the 2000 Sydney games.
Millar, a middle blocker, played for the Cougars from 1996 to 1999. He was a three-time first-team All-American and helped BYU win its first-ever men's volleyball national championship. During the Olympics, Millar led the team with 16 blocks and also recorded 53 kills while hitting .375. He also played in the 2000 Olympics.
BYU also had connections to Team USA in the coaching staff. Former Cougar head coach Carl McGown was a team consultant and two of his former assistants, Hugh McCutcheon and Rob Browning, were assistants to Team USA head coach Doug Beal.
The final dive of Rachelle Kunkel was the last dip in the pool for the five swimmers and divers with BYU ties. Kunkel had the most favorable ending of former Cougars, placing ninth in the 3-meter springboard finals August 26.
Justin Wilcock, the second of former BYU divers to compete in Athens, did not fare as well as his fellow teammate. Wilcock went into the men's 3-meter springboard competition with a stress fracture of his fifth vertebrate and didn't have the strength to push off the board, as he would have liked. The fact that he placed last among the divers competing was not as important as the fact that he finished the competition at all.
Two members of the Singapore swim team, a former and current athlete for BYU, were happy to represent the small nation off the coast of the Malaysian peninsula. Gary Tan, a former Cougar swam a time of 2:08.44 in the 200-meter individual medley giving him 43rd place overall.
The second BYU connection from Singapore was Mark Chay who came in with a time of 52.83 in the 100-meter free and 1:54.70 in the 200-meter free. Chay came in 56th and 51st, respectively in each event.
The final Cougar swimmer was Brazilian Diogo de Oliveira Yabe who turned in a time of 2:03.86 in the 200-meter individual relay. Yabe swam well but came up a second and a half short of qualifying for the semifinal heats. In the end the Brazilian placed 26th.
The five Cougars matched the highest number of swimmers and divers to compete in the Olympics in the last 20 years. Yabe and Chay will return to BYU after the Olympics to compete for the men's swimming team this season. The pair will look to help the Cougars capture a sixth straight Mountain West Conference Championship.
Track & Field
Representing Namibia, former BYU All-American Frank Fredericks took fourth in the finals of the men's 200 meters in his last Olympic appearance ever with a season best time of 20.14, losing to three Americans: Shawn Crawford, Bernard Williams and Justin Gatlin. Although he did not medal, 55 percent of his fellow Olympic competitors voted Fredericks to be one of the four newest members of the IOC Athletes Commission.
Before running a 20.43 in the semifinals, Fredericks ran a season best time of 20.20 in round two, qualifying him for the semifinals with a second-place finish in the first heat. In round one of the 200 meters, Fredericks took first in the third heat with a time of 20.54. He clocked a personal best time in this event of 19.68 when he took second at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He also took silver in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Former BYU All-American Leonard Myles-Mills, representing his native country Ghana, competed in the first round of the men's 4x100-meter relay after qualifying for the Olympics as one of the top 16 relay teams in the world. In the second heat, Myles-Mills and his teammates took sixth with a time of 38.88, a season best time for this Ghana team that have competed only a few times together this year.
Myles-Mills also placed sixth in the second heat of the men's 100 meters semifinals with a time of 10.22, failing to make finals. Justin Gatlin of Team USA ended up winning the gold after running a 9.85 in the finals late Sunday night.
After two rounds of the men's 100 meters Saturday, Myles-Mills advanced to the semifinals with a time of 10.18 while Frank Fredericks failed to advance with a time of 10.17. Myles-Mills placed third in the fifth heat of the quarterfinal after qualifying in the first round early Saturday. Because the top three advanced in each heat, Myles-Mills advanced with a time of 10.18 despite Fredericks running a 10.17, placing fourth in the fourth heat.
After ranking 16th after day one of the women's heptathlon competition, Tiffany Lott-Hogan finished with 6,066 points while Marsha Mark Baird tallied 5,962 in this event. Lott-Hogan began Friday's competition with the second fastest time in the 100 meters with a time of 13.13 while Baird took fifth overall in the long jump with a jump of 6.22 meters.
Lott-Hogan, representing Team USA, finished 20th overall while Baird, representing Trinidad & Tobago took 25th. Carolina Kluft of Sweden took the gold after posting 6,952 points.