Created: Oct 26, 2016 (2:37AM)
VILLANOVA, Pa.--A pair of Villanova teammates and countrymen were each officially named to the Australian Olympic Team Wednesday afternoon and will represent their country at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next month. Current senior Patrick Tiernan and 2015 graduate Sam McEntee were among the country's 61 selections to the Olympic team in Athletics. They will each run the 5000 meters in Rio.
With the selections of Tiernan and McEntee to Australia’s team, the Wildcats track & field program has had at least one current or former athlete compete in every Summer Olympics dating back to 1948. Villanova now has 64 Olympians all-time, including three for the 2016 Olympics in McEntee, Tiernan and former men’s basketball player Kyle Lowry who was previously announced as a member of the Team USA squad.
The 2016 Summer Olympics run from August 5-21. All of the Athletics events take place at Olympic Stadium in Rio, with the preliminaries and final of the men’s 5000 meters scheduled for August 17 and August 20, respectively.
Tiernan, who has used up his collegiate eligibility in track & field but still has a season of cross country eligibility that he will use this fall, is set to become the first Villanova student-athlete to compete in the Olympics while still a current member of a Wildcats team since women’s swimmer Maddy Crippen represented the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The last Villanova track & field athlete to run in the Olympics while still in school was Vicki Huber in 1988. Many more throughout the Wildcats long and storied history, like McEntee, have gone on to compete in the Olympics within a
year of graduating.
It was a winding road and at times a gut-wrenching process that led both McEntee and Tiernan to the Olympics. Their
official nominations by Athletics Australia to the country’s
Olympic committee were announced on Wednesday, but the announcement was just the final step on a path that began in earnest at the Australian Athletics Championships in late March. That meet served as the country’s national championships and Olympic Trials, and McEntee won the 5000 meters while Tiernan finished fourth at the meet. None of the competitors achieved the Olympic standard time of 13:25.0 during that particular race. Australia had been allotted three spots in the 5000 meters for Rio, and McEntee essentially secured his spot on May 1 at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford. He recorded a time of 13:20.72 in the 5000 meters there to come in under the Olympic standard. Tiernan competed in the same race but missed the standard by less than a second. His official time was 13:25.78.
Tiernan finished out the collegiate season – he approached the Olympic standard again when he ran a time of 13:27.07 and finished third at the NCAA Championships in June – and then headed to Europe to once again try and achieve the time he needed. He got the time at the Paavo Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland on June 29 when he posted a time of 13:20.88. It met the Olympic standard but was not as fast as the season best time of another Australian runner, Collis Birmingham. Tiernan and Birmingham each ran the 5000 meters at the British Milers Grand Prix on July 9 in Solihull, England. With the winner between them essentially earning a spot in Rio, Tiernan left nothing to chance and he won the race by a wide margin.
The historical success of the Villanova track & field program is legendary, and both McEntee and Tiernan have been a part of maintaining that tradition in recent years. McEntee is a member of the Wildcats sub-four minute mile club and was a six-time All-American and four-time BIG EAST champion during his collegiate career. His All-America accolades included earning first team honors in the Mile indoors in 2012 and also being a two-time All-American outdoors in the 1500 meters. He notably led off the 4xMile relay and helped Villanova win a Championship of America title in the event at the Penn Relays in 2015, with Tiernan running the third leg of that relay.
With one cross country season still remaining, Tiernan is already a seven-time All-American and a 10-time BIG EAST champion during his time with the Wildcats. He is one of only two runners in school history to be a three-time All-American
in cross country, and is the only men’s runner in BIG EAST history to win three straight individual conference cross country titles. Tiernan is also a six-time BIG EAST champion in the 5000 meters and has won that event at each of the last
three indoor and outdoor BIG EAST Championships. He has earned three first team All-America honors in the 5000 meters during his career, most recently at this year’s outdoor NCAA Championships where he placed third.
Villanova’s history at the Olympics dates back more than a century. The program’s first Olympian was John O’Connell, who competed in the broad jump at the 1908 Olympics in London. Villanova athletes have won 14 medals all-time at the Olympics, including nine gold and five silver medals. The 64 Olympians all-time have come from every part of the globe, representing 16 countries and four continents while competing in nine different sports. This great tradition already spans more than 100 years, beginning with the 1908 Olympics in London and continuing to the present day.
Villanova has been counting down to the 2016 Summer Olympics by recognizing a different Olympian each day. A photo gallery and a bio of each Olympian can be found by
visiting our official countdown page. McEntee, Tiernan and Lowry will be featured on Day “0” on August 5, which is the day that the Olympics begin in Rio.