Latter-day Saints in the Olympics, days 1 & 2: Volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, shooting

USA’s volleyball teams, both on hardwood and sand, had their first matches, swimmers had their first races, gymnasts competed in their preliminary competitions and the soccer tournament continued in the first two days of official Olympic competition following the opening ceremonies,  

Here’s how athletes with connections to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did in their Olympic competitions.  

Read more: Meet the Latter-day Saint Olympians competing in Tokyo

Volleyball  

Taylor Sander of the United States spikes the ball during a men's volleyball preliminary round pool B match against France, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Taylor Sander of the United States spikes the ball during a men’s volleyball preliminary round pool B match against France, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) Credit: Frank Augstein, Associated Press

In volleyball, outside hitter Taylor Sander helped Team USA win three straight matches against France in preliminary pool round on Saturday, July 24. The team won 25-18, 25-18 and 25-22. Its next match is Monday, July 26, against Russia.  

Jacob Gibb, left, of the United States, reacts to winning a men's beach volleyball match against Italy with his teammate Tri Bourne at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Jacob Gibb, left, of the United States, reacts to winning a men’s beach volleyball match against Italy with his teammate Tri Bourne at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Felipe Dana, Associated Press

On the sand, USA’s Jake Gibb with partner Tri Bourne won their preliminary pool round match against a duo from Italy on Sunday, July 25, in two sets — 21-18 and 21-19

In both volleyball and beach volleyball, the teams are divided in groups or pools and play each other member of the pool. Teams with the most wins in the pool games advance to the elimination rounds. 

Gymnastics 

MyKayla Skinner, of the United States, performs on the uneven bars during the women's artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.
MyKayla Skinner, of the United States, performs on the uneven bars during the women’s artistic gymnastic qualifications at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo. Credit: Natacha Pisarenko, Associated Press

MyKayla Skinner is competing as an individual in the Olympics for Team USA. In the qualification round on Sunday, July 25, she competed on all four apparatus with an eye to getting to the apparatus finals later in the competition.  

The top eight in each event, with the two-per-country limit — will advance to apparatus finals. Her vaults landed her in fourth place overall for the individual apparatus competition with a score of 14.866, however she’s behind two other USA gymnasts — Simone Biles, who was first, and Carey Jade, who was second. She tied for 31st on uneven bars, 27th on beam and 14th on the floor exercise.  

In the all-around competition, the top 24 gymnasts move to the next round with a limit of two per country. She was 11th in the all-around competition, behind three others from Team USA.  

Soccer 

Brazil and Netherlands players, including Bruna Benites, front in blue, battle for a header during a women's soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Miyagi, Japan.
Brazil and Netherlands players, including Bruna Benites, front in blue, battle for a header during a women’s soccer match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Miyagi, Japan. Credit: Andre Penner, Associated Press

On the soccer pitch, the Brazil women, including 35-year-old Bruna Benites, tied with the Netherlands, 3-3 in the second game of pool play on Saturday, July 24. The Brazil women will face Zambia on Tuesday, July 27.   

Like volleyball, the teams are divided in groups or pools and play each other member of the pool. Teams with the most wins in the pool games advance to the elimination rounds. 

Swimming 

The pool of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre is reflected in a window during a swimming training session at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
The pool of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre is reflected in a window during a swimming training session at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Matthias Schrader, Associated Press

In swimming, Puerto Rico’s Jarod Arroyo, 20, swam in the qualification heats for the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, July 24. The eight fastest swimmers moved on to the finals. He was fifth in his heat and 22nd of 29 swimmers overall with a time of 4:17.46. 

He will also compete in the 200-meter individual medley heats, which are on Wednesday, July 28. 

Josue Dominguez Ramos, 24, of the Dominican Republic, raced in the 50-meter breaststroke qualification heats on Saturday, July 24. The top 16 of the nearly 50 swimmers would compete in the semifinals. His time of 1:01.86 put him in 39th overall.

The BYU student will also compete in the 200-meter breaststroke. The qualification heats are scheduled for Tuesday, July 27.  

Rhyan Elizabeth White, 21, qualified for the semifinals in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 59.02 seconds on Sunday, July 25. Of the more than 40 swimmers in the race, she was sixth overall and the top 16 moved to the semifinals. The semifinals are on Monday, July 26.   

Shooting  

Alexis Lagan, of the United States, competes in the women's 10-meter air pistol at the Asaka Shooting Range in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Alexis Lagan, of the United States, competes in the women’s 10-meter air pistol at the Asaka Shooting Range in the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Credit: Alex Brandon, Associated Press

In the shooting competitions, 28-year-old Alexis “Lexi” Lagan placed 38th of 53 in the 10-meter air pistol qualifications. Lagan, who is a University of Utah alumna and Colorado resident, will also compete in the 25-meter pistols on Thursday, July 29.  

Read more of Church News’ coverage of athletes connected to the Church competing in the Olympics

On social  

Gibb posted on Instagram a tribute to his partner Taylor Crabb, who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan. Gibb is now playing with Tri Bourne.  

“Yesterday after practice I took a moment because I had to remind myself that just because this isn’t how we visualized things, we have to keep fighting. We are so blessed to be able to play here in Tokyo with everything going on,” Gibb  wrote.“ Just because Taylor isn’t on the court with me doesn’t mean he’s not part of this team. We are strategizing, planning, focusing TOGETHER.” 

Lagan shared her favorite photos from the opening ceremonies.  

“I’m so glad I was able to walk and appreciate the magnitude of how many countries and people are here. I had so much fun, and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience,” she wrote.

The USA gymnastics team had their own mini opening ceremony, and Skinner shared a photo of her jumping with a teammate.  

Benites has been sharing photos of her teammates on Brazil’s soccer team.

New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams wrote a tribute to her trainer in Switzerland as she makes her way to Japan.