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Ohio State welcomes back Olympic athletes

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OSU junior Kyle Snyder stands at attention for the U.S. national anthem after receiving his gold medal on Aug. 21. Credit: Courtesy of Tony Rotundo

OSU junior Kyle Snyder stands at attention for the U.S. national anthem after receiving his gold medal on Aug. 21. Credit: Courtesy of Tony Rotundo

There are many countries represented on Ohio State’s campus. This year, it was time for seven Buckeyes to represent their countries in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Each of the Buckeyes were honored and recognized at a Welcome Back event at the Ohio Union.

Of the 16 current and former Buckeyes participating in the Olympic Games, four medalled in their respective events — including two gold medals from former student Ilse Paulis, who represented the Netherlands in Rowing, and Kyle Snyder, the junior wrestler who represented the United States.

Once Snyder received his gold medal from wrestling in the Men’s freestyle 97-kilogram class, he knew his work in Rio was finished.

“The moments I was preparing for came throughout the day and throughout my matches,” Snyder said.  “The product of wrestling well was standing at the top of the podium and being able to listen to the National Anthem.”

For senior Eleanor Harvey, who represented Canada on the fencing team, the Opening Ceremony was unlike anything she had ever experienced.  

“I did not expect myself to feel so pumped up and energized from the crowd because I haven’t really experienced it before,” Harvey said.  “It was overwhelming, but I remember it very clearly. Whenever I think back to it, I get excited to do it again.”

Senior Nichelle Prince came back to Ohio with some hardware. She helped Canada win the bronze medal in women’s soccer. However, the Olympics were not only about the competition for Prince. It was a reality check.

“Before you go to the Olympics, you think it’s this magical place that is untouchable to everyone,” Prince said.  “Once you go, you realize these athletes are just like you. They work their whole life for this experience. That makes it even better that you are among these great athletes.”

With this career defining experience over with, many of these Buckeyes have to return to Columbus where they will compete in their respective sports. Although the competition may never be at the Olympic level, senior Aina Cid-Centelles, who represented Spain on their rowing team, said that being successful will still take a lot of work.

“Even though I’ve been to the Olympics, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go to the Big Ten and just win it all,” Cid-Centelles said. “I still have to work.”

However, the title of Olympian, whether a particular medalled or not, can never be taken away. For Snyder though, it is time to get right back to work.

“When my career is over, all of the things that I have been able to do will sink in a bit more,” Snyder said. “For right now, I still catch myself looking ahead and looking towards the future.”

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