The volleyball courts of the 2012 Olympic Games — be they on sand or the hardwood — have a decidedly Latter-day Saint flavor. Three male athletes vying for gold in volleyball competitions are all returned missionaries.
Russell Holmes, a middle blocker on Team USA men's volleyball team, and his teammate, libero Rich Lambourne, are both returned missionaries who played together at Brigham Young University. Brother Holmes, Brother Lambourne and the rest of the American squad were, at press time, undefeated as they worked their way through the pool-play portion of the tournament.
Team USA is expected to contend for a medal.
Meanwhile, returned missionary and beach volleyball star Jake Gibb and his two-man-team companion, Sean Rosenthal, were in hopes of climbing back into medal competition after suffering a single game setback. The duo were seeded fourth in the tournament and had been considered to be the team with the most "momentum" coming into the Games.
Brother Gibb is a native of Bountiful, Utah.
On the soccer pitch, Church convert and midfielder Bruna Beatriz Benites Soares and her teammates from the women's Brazilian soccer team had, at press time, advanced to the tournament's quarterfinals and were well positioned to challenge for a place on the medal podium.
Brazil is traditionally counted among the world's top "futbol" powers.
Church members have also competed in the water during the storied Olympic Games.
Member Lucia Palerma, a rower from Argentina, participated in the women's single scull event.
Meanwhile, returned missionary Andrew Rutherford of Bolivia and American swimmer Breeja Larson have represented the Church and their respective nations in the pool. Neither athelete was able to medal.
American water polo goalkeeper, Tamula Anae, a member from southern California continued with her team through preliminary play and hopes to compete for an Olympic medal.
The United State's top-ranked woman weight lifter, 23-year-old Sarah Robles of California, is scheduled to begin competing on Aug. 5. Several other members from various countries are expected to compete in the upcoming track and field events.