Nearly 3 dozen athletes with Wisconsin ties in Tokyo games


MADISON, Wis. — Besides Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday of the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, nearly three dozen athletes with Wisconsin connections will be going for the gold as the Tokyo Olympics get underway.

The Badger State athletes will represent Team USA in competition that includes trap shooting, track and field, rowing and sailing.

Alie Rusher, from West Bend, will be participating in the quadruple sculls rowing event, which she says requires a mix of strength and finesse.

“The biggest challenge has been staying super light and quick, yet also finding a way to add my power to the stroke because the boat’s moving so fast,” said Rusher. “It’s definitely fun to be in a team boat versus the single, which I was in most of the year. I definitely feed off the energy of other people.”

Rusher tells Wisconsin Public Radio the pandemic gave her an extra year to train, allowing her to work with Olympian rowers past and present.

“It’s just amazing to walk around and see all the different countries and all the different athletes in one place,” said Rusher. “It seems like a dream, actually, but it’s reality.”

Being an Olympian runs in the family. Rusher’s parents were Olympic rowers themselves in 1988 and 1992, taking home silver and bronze medals.

COVID-19 concerns meant the games were postponed from last year. The national stadium was nearly empty Friday as the opening ceremony unfolded. The games continue through Aug. 8.

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