Every two years, the Olympics gives nations around the world the opportunity to showcase their best athletes, and Lobos from the University of New Mexico have had more than a few chances to shine. Here’s a look at five notable Lobo Olympians from over the years.
Cathy Carr, the only athlete on this list to have an individual medal, holds the distinction of being the first athlete from the University of New Mexico to win an Olympic gold medal in 1972. At the age of 18, Carr won not one, but two gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in swimming— the first, in the 100 breaststroke and the second, in the 4x100 medley relay.
She was also the first female athlete to be offered an athletic scholarship from UNM under the Provisions of Title IX of the Higher Education Amendment of 1972 and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1988.
Jarrin Solomon had an interesting path to the Olympic games. An Albuquerque native, Solomon initially got a scholarship to play for an out-of-state university but decided to turn it down to run track at UNM instead. However, he missed the window of eligibility to be offered an athletic scholarship, so he instead got the lottery scholarship and joined the track team as a walk-on.
He quickly got athletic scholarship money for his last three years as he set an indoor record for the 400-meter and won multiple Mountain West Conference titles. Following an All-American career at UNM, Solomon represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2012 Summer Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the 4-x-400 meter relay. Solomon has since been inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame.
Luc Longley is well-remembered as one of UNM’s finest basketball alumni, having been twice selected to the All-Western Athletic Conference first team, as well as leading the Lobos to the 1991 National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
While otherwise best known for his three NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, Longley was also a staple at the Summer Olympics in basketball, competing for his native country Australia in 1988, 1992 and 2000.
His best finish at the Olympics was in his first trip in 1988 at the age of 19; the Boomers finished fourth, which remains the best finish at the Olympics for the Australian men’s basketball team.
Karlos Kirby was the first Iowan to represent the U.S. at a Winter Olympic Games when he went as a member of Team USA’s bobsledding team in 1992 and 1994. He got both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNM while also running track for the Lobos.
Kirby has also won five U.S. National Push Championships. Following his bobsledding career, Kirby joined the United States Olympic Committee, advocating significantly for U.S. Olympic athletes, hence the inclusion on this list.
Daniel Santiago, who played for the UNM men’s basketball team from 1995-1997, was a 7-foot-1-inch center who had stints both in the NBA and in Liga Endesa. During a remarkably long professional career, Santiago represented Puerto Rico at the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics in basketball.
The 2004 Puerto Rican team is famously the first team to defeat the U.S. Olympic team since the integration of NBA players in 1992 and since the Soviet Union did in 1972. That defeat in 2004 is still the most lopsided loss for the U.S. in Olympic history with a score of 92-73. Santiago started against Tim Duncan, playing 25 minutes and scoring 7 points, grabbing 3 rebounds and going 3-7 from the field.
Lobos, both former and current, who are competing in the 2021 Summer Olympics so far include Courtney Frerichs, Adva Cohen and Django Lovett. Frerichs, representing the U.S., will be facing off against Cohen, who is competing for Israel, in the 3000m steeplechase on August 4, while Lovett will be representing Canada in the high jump on August 7.
Matthew Salcido is the sports editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @baggyeyedguy