By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
BRAZIL - Former Rice Owl greats Olaya Pazo (beach volleyball) and Lennie Waite (3000m steeplechase) will make their dreams come true in the upcoming days when they compete at the 28th edition of the Olympic Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Pazo, representing her home country of Venezuela, will pair with Norisbeth Agudo Gonzalez to play in three prelim matches in Group F. The duo will first face the Netherlands (Madelein Meppelink/Marleen van Iersel) on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 4:30 p.m. (CT). That match can be watched via this NBC stream.
Pazo and Agudo will then face Australia's Taliqua Clancy/Louise Bawden at 9 p.m. (CT) on Monday, Aug. 8, followed by a match versus Costa Rica's Karen Cope Charles/Nathalia Alfaro on Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 4:30 p.m.
Pazo last played volleyball at Rice in the fall of 2005 before graduating in the spring of 2006. The native of Caracas, Venezuela, earned Honorable Mention All-America from the America Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in her senior year, as well as First Team All-Conference USA and the Rice program's annual Most Outstanding Player award.
After graduating from Rice, Olaya played professionally in European (indoor) leagues as well as on the Venezuelan national team for three years with her twin sister and Rice Owl volleyball great, Rebeca. Olaya started playing beach volleyball in 2010 while living in Miami.
Olaya has competed in enough events on the AVP tour, with a career-best fifth place finish in St. Petersburg with Sarah Day. Olaya and Agudo represented their country in the 2014 South American Games where they earned the Silver Medal. The pair won bronze in the 2015 Central American Games and were ranked in the Top 25 in the FIVB World rankings. The team punched their ticket to Rio by winning the recent South American Continental Cup.
Waite, from Paisley, Scotland, will be running for Great Britain in the 3000m steeplechase with the prelims set for Saturday, Aug. 13 at approximately 7:30 a.m. (CT). The race can be seen via this NBC stream. The top 14 finishers will advance to the finals, which will be held on Monday, Aug. 15 at 8:15 a.m. (CT).
Waite punched her ticket to the 2016 Summer Olympics by placing second (9:54.06) in the 3000m steeplechase at the British Championships back on June 26.
Waite, who graduated from Rice in 2009, had already reached the Olympic qualifying mark (9:45.00) with a run of 9:35.91 on June 12, when she set a personal best time at the Portland Track Festival.
A 2009 recipient of the Joyce Pounds Hardy Award, Waite earned All-America status at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships when she placed sixth in the mile and won two C-USA Indoor titles (mile, 3000m) that same season. She also played soccer for the Owls and was a member of the 2004 squad, which made the school's first-ever appearance at the NCAA Tournament.
Waite becomes Rice's ninth Olympic athlete from the women's track and field program and the first since Funmi Jimoh competed in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.