Commodores in Tokyo: Lily Williams, Matthias Schwab compete in 2021 Olympic Games

Vanderbilt graduates Lily Williams and Matthias Schwab have completed their 2021 Olympic events with Williams taking home a bronze medal.

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Lily Williams helped secure a bronze medal for Team USA at the 2021 Olympics. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Justin Hershey, Sports Editor

Better late than never. After a year-long wait to get her chance at Olympic glory, former Vanderbilt runner Lily Williams (BA’16)—the first female olympian in school history—notched a bronze medal as a member of the US team pursuit cycling team.

On Monday, alongside teammates Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente, Emma White and Megan Jastrab, Williams raced against a group of British cyclists with a bid to the gold medal match on the line. Despite an early British lead, the Americans jumped in front late in the race for a brief period of time, but could not hold onto that advantage, losing by just .814 seconds thereby taking a spot in the bronze medal race.

But the Americans had little problem in the bronze medal race, finishing off Canada by more than two seconds with a time of 4:08.040 to clinch their spot on the podium on Tuesday. Although she did not race in the final match, Williams was credited a bronze medal alongside her four teammates.

“The last year has been so difficult for everybody, filled with so many unknowns, and to finally line up after a year and a half without racing is a privilege in itself,” her teammate Jennifer Valente said after the race. “We’ve just worked so hard to get here and I think we can all finally say that we’ve ridden the very best that we had, up to this point, and that we’re really happy with the bronze.”

The now Olympic medalist formerly competed with Vanderbilt’s track and field and cross country teams from 2012-16, but did not seriously compete in cycling until after her graduation from Vanderbilt. Now, she is the proud holder of a gold medal from last year’s world championships and a bronze medal from the sport’s biggest stage. 

Only two former Commodores had ever stood atop an Olympic podium—Jeff Turner (1984) in basketball and Casey Weathers (2008) in baseball.

Also representing the Commodores in Tokyo was former golfer Matthias Schwab (BA’17). A three-time All-American for head coach Scott Limbaugh at Vanderbilt, Schwab competed in the four-day men’s golf tournament doning red and white in honor of his home country, Austria. 

“I’m so proud of Matthias and the way he represents his family, his country and Vanderbilt golf with great character, pride and humbleness. We will all be glued to the television watching him compete in Tokyo in July,” Limbaugh told VUCommodores.com before competition began.

 

Schwab teed it up alongside the world’s best from Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, Japan. A consistent four days of golf yielded a nine-under performance for the current European Tour professional. A pair of 69’s followed by a third-round 70 kept Schwab right in the middle of the leaderboard. But a beautiful fourth-round 67 that featured six birdies vaulted him into a tie for 27th and a finish firmly in the top half of the talented leaderboard.

Schwab and Williams became the fourth and fifth Commodores to ever compete in the Olympic Games and the first to do so since Weathers in 2008.