Half a dozen VCU alumni have appeared in the Olympics over the years, including two this summer in London. Some of these student-athletes will be familiar to you, others may not, but all have been a part of history. Let’s meet them.
SAEED BASWEIDAN – YEMEN (1996 Summer Olympics – Atlanta)
Saeed Basweidan was just 19 when he ran the 800-meters for Yemen at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He was clocked at 1:49.35 and finished sixth in his heat. He did not advance to the finals.
A native of Mokala, Yemen, Basweidan transferred to VCU in 1997 from Florida Community College after winning three National Junior College Championships in the 800. He enjoyed a solid, if not spectacular middle distance career at VCU from 1997-99, qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 1998, as well as the NCAA Indoor Championships in 1999. He was also a member of VCU’s NCAA-qualifying distance medley relay team in 1998. He still holds school records in the indoor 800 (1:49.33) and as a member of the distance medley and 4×800-meter relays.
Basweidan later attended Weber State University, where he earned a degree in computer science and electronics engineering. He has since worked his way up the ladder of the telecommunications industry and is currently the COO at Injazat Data Systems in the United Arab Emirates.
EVGENY KISURIN – RUSSIA (2000 Summer Olympics – Sydney, Australia)
Better known to VCU Basketball fans as Eugene Kissourine, Kisurin appeared in one game for Russia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, scoring three points. After serving as a pivotal cog in Russia’s silver medal-winning World Championship squads in 1994 and 1998, Kisurin found himself on the outside of the rotation in Sydney.
Kisurin played for VCU during the 1992-93 season, averaging 6.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while helping the team to the Metro Conference Championship Game and the NIT. Despite a promising future with the Rams, Kisurin had a young family to support and accepted a professional contract with an Italian club that summer.
After retiring from professional basketball in 2006, Kisurin began coaching and is currently an assistant for Russia’s U18 squad, as well as the head coach of Spartak-2, a team comprised of players 18-21 years old. His son, Vitaly, recently graduated from VCU with a degree in chemistry.
SHERMAN HAMILTON – CANADA (2000 Summer Olympics – Sydney, Australia)
Canada finished 4-1 in Group B, but were topped by France 68-63 in the quarterfinals. Days later, Hamilton scored 10 points and dished out five assists as Canada edged Russia 86-83 in double overtime to earn seventh place. Hamilton, playing alongside NBA pros Steve Nash and Todd MacCulloch, averaged 6.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists (second to only Nash) in seven games.
A transfer from Florida Tech, Hamilton played three seasons at VCU from 1994-97. A native of Malton, Ontario, Hamilton made 90 consecutive starts at point guard for the Rams, averaging 9.8 points and 4.6 assists, while draining 152 three-pointers. He is eighth in school history with 417 assists and was a member of VCU’s 1996 CAA Championship squad.
Hamilton played professionally in Europe before turning his attention to other ventures. After a stint as an assistant coach for the Canadian National Team, Hamilton joined the Toronto Raptors as a TV analyst.
YANN BONATO – FRANCE (2000 Summer Olympics – Sydney, Australia)
Bonato became VCU’s only Olympic medalist when he helped France to silver in 2000, averaging 9.7 points and 2.2 rebounds. Bonato scored 16 points in France’s Group A opening win over New Zealand and also dropped 15 in his country’s group finale loss to the United States. However, in the team’s quarterfinal win over Canada, Bonato ruptured his Achillies tendon and missed France’s final two games. Without Bonato, France lost to the United State 85-75 in the Gold Medal contest.
A native of Antibes, France and the son of one of the country’s most famous basketball stars, Bonato had a one-season run with VCU during the 1990-91 campaign under Sonny Smith. A promising 6-foot-7 freshman forward, Bonato initially struggled to earn playing time in Smith’s system. He appeared in 22 contests, starting three. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Bonato played professionally in France and Italy until 2004.
HAYLEY MOORWOOD – NEW ZEALAND (2008 [Beijing] and 2012 [London] Summer Olympics)
New Zealand made its first Olympic appearance in women’s soccer in 2008, and Moorwood saw action in all three of New Zealand’s matches, recording one shot on goal and one yellow card. New Zealand (0-2-1) finished 10th and did not advance to the knockout stage. Moorwood returned to the Ferns lineup for the 2012 Games in London.
In her only season in a VCU uniform in 2005, Moorwood, a midfielder, scored three goals and recorded three assists and was named Second Team All-CAA. She was also one of the driving forces behind the Rams’ drive to a conference title and NCAA First Round victory over Clemson. However, when presented with a chance to join New Zealand’s national team, Moorwood, who is from Auckland, New Zealand, jumped at the opportunity.
Moorwood, 28, currently plays professionally for Chelsea L.F.C.
QUANITRA HOLLINGSWORTH – TURKEY (2012 Summer Olympics, London, England)
Hollingsworth, from Chesapeake, Va., is the first American-born VCU student-athlete to participate in the Olympics, although she will do so under the Turkish flag. Hollingsworth recently obtained Turkish citizenship. She averaged 11 points and nearly seven rebounds per game during Olympic qualifying to help the Turks reach the Games for the first time.
Hollingsworth skipped two years of middle school and later enrolled at VCU in 2004 when she was just 15. After redshirting the 2004-05 season, the 6-foot-5 center embarked on a record-breaking career with the Rams, setting marks for rebounding and double-doubles. Hollingsworth also led the Rams to the first NCAA berth in school history in 2009.
Selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2009 WNBA Draft, Hollingsworth is a current member of the New York Liberty. She has also played professionally in Europe during the winter.