Athletes with ties to the Inland Northwest head to the Tokyo Olympics

Japan To Declare Virus Emergency Lasting Through Olympics
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People wearing face masks walk past the National Stadium in Tokyo, Thursday, July 8, 2021. Japan is set to place Tokyo under a state of emergency that would last through the Olympics, fearing an ongoing COVID-19 surge will multiply during the Games.

SPOKANE, Wash.— The Tokyo Olympics are just around the corner, and competitors will be wearing their nations’ colors with pride and honor in an event that only happens every four years.

While there are many across the world representing their respective nations, the Inland Northwest will also have representatives in Tokyo this summer. From those who are natives to those who attended college in the area, the INW will be well-represented this year. 

Here are some of the athletes representing the Inland Northwest this summer:

       1. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga, Japan

The former Zag will be the flag bearer for the host country this summer. The No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA draft was a Zag from 2016-2019, being part of the 2016-17 runner-up team and the 2018-19 Elite Eight squad. Hachimura received a first team All-American bid his junior year, along with winning the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year and West Coast Conference Player of the Year.

       2. Aron Baynes, Washington State University, Australia

Baynes played all four years at WSU, playing in 122 games for the Cougs. The 6-foot-10-inch center averaged 8.7 points and 5.4 rebounds during his time at WSU, shooting 54.5% from the field in his college career. Baynes will be participating in his third straight Olympics this summer.

       3. Ike Iroegbu, WSU, Nigeria

Another Coug hooper will be hitting the hardwood this summer in Tokyo. Iroegbu played for WSU from 2013-2016, averaging 9.9 points and 3.0 assists. Iroegbu is tied-13th all time in assists at WSU, and this summer, Iroegbu and Baynes will be going against each other, as both Nigeria and Australia are in the same group stage.

       4. Leilani Mitchell, Kennewick, Australia

The Kennewick, Wash., native will be hooping for the Australians this summer. The 13-year veteran, who has dual citizenship, currently plays for the Washington Mystics, and this past season, she averaged 7.7 points, shooting 36.8% from behind the arc and over 90% from the free throw line.

READ: Former Zag Rui Hachimura to be flag bearer for Japan

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