Kansas State has a long tradition of success at the Olympics, dating all the way back to 1920. 24 Wildcats have represented their countries at the Olympics so far, winning eight medals in total. This year, seven current and former Kansas State track and field athletes have qualified for the 2016 Games in Rio. Over the next week, we'll introduce you to each of these Wildcats so you can root for them when they take the field.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last several years, Erik Kynard, Jr. requires little introduction. The high jump specialist won a silver medal at the London Games in 2012, gaining as much attention for his jumping as for his American flag-themed socks and his resemblance to Kobe Bryant.
In Rio, Kynard looks to go one better and bring home gold. Earlier this year, he won the US Olympic Trials with a jump of 2.29m/7.06, not quite the 2.33m mark he managed in London. Competition in Rio will be tougher than in London. Already in 2016, 11 other high jumpers have cleared 2.30m or higher, and Kynard will have to work hard to finish at the top of the heap. His best height this year is 2.35m, good for fourth best.
For his part, Kynard is confident that the stability he gained from moving back to Manhattan and training with coach Cliff Rovelto will make all the difference.
Kynard may also be one of the more entertaining athletes at the 2016 Games. If his socks and his post-Olympics appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman didn't win fans over, then surely his Twitter feed will. To wit:
Well it's settled after Rio 2016 I will retire and pursue my dream (day dream lol) of being an NFL WR fades, hitches, wheels and verticals— Erik Kynard Jr. (@Erik_Kynard) December 13, 2014
Maybe Kynard has eligibility left?
Kynard will begin his Rio campaign with the high jump qualifiers on August 13 at 8:30 PM CDT.