Two University of Hawai‘i student athletes are competing next week in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in swimming and track and field, with a chance to earn the honor of representing their country next month at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Graduating senior Darren Maxwell is competing in the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly, beginning Sunday and running through July 6 at the Quest Center in Omaha, Neb. Returning junior Amber Kaufman will be competing in the high jump, running Monday through July 6 at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
Kaufman is coming off a fifth place NCAA finish at the Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, and is the defending WAC Champion in the high jump.
Kaufman cleared 6 feet, 1/2 inches at the WAC Championships, earning the invite for the Olympic Trials. The high jump leader this year is Chaunte Howard.
“Amber is an amazing athlete and she has performed well this spring,” UH track and field coach Carmyn James said. “Amber has great potential and I think we are starting to see what she can do.”
Maxwell won the Conference USA 100-yard butterfly title and finished second in the 200-yard butterfly. Maxwell will be competing against the nation’s best, including Michael Phelps, who is the world-record holder in the 200-meter butterfly and Ian Crocker, who is the world record holder in the 100-meter butterfly.
“We are all excited for Darren,” UH swimming coach Victor Wales said. “This is something Darren has worked very hard for and hopefully he will swim well this week. There is some tough competition and it’s an honor just to be there.”
Hawai‘i already has one alumna competing in the Olympics.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team announced that Natasha Kai made the 18-player roster. Kai is UH’s all-time leading scorer and the only player in Western Athletic Conference history to win player of the year honors three times after playing from 2002-05.
Kahuku’s Brian Ching of the Houston Dynamo will be on the men’s soccer team and Kapolei’s Clarissa Chun made the Olympic wrestling team.
Taylor Takata of Wahiawa will also compete at the Olympics as a member of the U.S. Judo team.
The 2008 Summer Olympics begin August 8 in Beijing, China.