Ducks ready to rock London Olympics

Ten Oregon alumni are set to begin competition at the 2012 London Olympics, when the track and field portion of the games begins on Friday.

Between Friday and Aug. 11, there will potentially be at least one Duck in competition each day.

Oregon’s record contingent includes two former Olympians — Galen Rupp and Andrew Wheating — as well as eight others making their Olympic debuts: Keshia Baker, Zoe Buckman, Matthew Centrowitz, Ashton Eaton, Becky Holliday, Cyrus Hostetler, Brianne Theisen and Rachel Yurkovich.

Below is a breakdown of the Duck alums’ Olympic schedule (we've listed all rounds of events, though obviously there's no guarantee that all the athletes will advance to the finals):

Friday, August 3

The first day of track and field action finds Theisen, representing Team Canada, beginning competition in the first four events of the heptathlon (100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meters).

Last month, Theisen completed a remarkable senior season that saw her win the heptathlon with the second-highest point total in NCAA history (6,440) for her seventh career national title. She is also one of three finalists for the 2012 Bowerman Award.

Also Friday, Centrowitz and Wheating will compete in the qualifying heats for the men’s 1,500 meters.

Wheating was a two-time NCAA champ at 800 meters, and in 2010 pulled off the rare sweep of both the 800 and the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. Centrowitz followed Wheating as the NCAA 1,500 winner in 2011 and went on to take the U.S. title and finish third at the IAAF World Championships.

Saturday, August 4

Theisen wraps up the heptathlon with the final three events (long jump, javelin, 800 meters), while Holliday competes in the qualifying rounds of the women’s pole vault. Holliday won the NCAA pole vault title for the Ducks as a senior in 2003.

In one of the more anticipated races, Rupp is in the final of the men’s 10,000 meters at the end of the night. Rupp’s senior season in 2008-09 was one unequalled in NCAA annals. He was the 2008 national cross country champion in the fall, won the NCAA 3,000, 5,000 and anchored the victorious distance medley relay squad indoors and then came back outdoors for the remarkable double of winning the 5,000 and 10,000.

Sunday, August 5

Centrowitz and Wheating run in the semifinals of the men’s 1,500 are on the slate.

Monday, August 6

Holliday is in the final of the women’s pole vault, while Buckman competes for Australia in the opening heats of the women’s 1,500 meters.

Tuesday, August 7

What could be a big day for the Oregon alums begins with Yurkovich, the 2008-09 NCAA champion, beginning competition in the qualifying rounds of the women’s javelin.

The day concludes with the final of the men’s 1,500 meters for Centrowitz and Wheating.

Wednesday, August 8

Eaton begins his quest for the gold in the men’s decathlon on one of the heavier competition days for the Oregon alums. Day 1 decathlon events include 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters.

Eaton broke the world record in the decathlon by scoring 9,039 points in winning his second straight American title last month at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field. The Bend., Ore., native was a five-time NCAA champion for the Ducks.

Also Wednesday, Rupp competes in the opening heats of the men’s 5,000 meters, Buckman is in the semifinals of the 1,500 meters and Hostetler begins competition in the men’s javelin.

Thursday, August 9

The day could belong to Eaton as the decathlon wraps up on center stage with the final five events: 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1,500 meters. 

Yurkovich also has the finals of the women’s javelin.

Friday, August 10

Baker finally joins the action with the preliminary heats of the women’s 4x400 meters.

Buckman would have the finals of the women’s 1,500 meters.

Saturday, August 11

The final day of competition features the finals of the women’s 4x400 meter relay for Baker, the men’s javelin for Hostetler and the men’s 5,000 for Rupp.

Hostetler was the 2009-10 Pac-10 champion and still holds the league record (272-10), while Baker anchored Oregon’s memorable 4x400 meter relay victory over Texas A&M at the 2010 NCAA Championships at Historic Hayward Field.

In addition to these 10 alums, a pair of athletes who began their careers at Oregon will also be competing in London. Kyle Alcorn will be a member of Team USA in the men’s steeplechase. He ran his first two seasons at Oregon before transferring to Arizona State.

Chamberlain Oguchi will also be at the Olympics as a member of Nigeria’s men’s basketball team. Oguchi played his first three seasons at Oregon before finishing up at Illinois State.

— Greg Walker,; photos: