5 former, current Hurricanes competing in Tokyo Olympics

Athletes with Miami ties representing 4 countries, not US
Danny Valencia, Emma Gullstrand and Alysha Newman, Miami Hurricanes in Tokyo Olympics
Posted at 12:34 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 12:34:36-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Five athletes with University of Miami ties will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics, and although none will be representing the U.S., they'll be proudly representing four other countries -- and the Hurricanes, of course.

One current and former Miami baseball player will suit up for the Israeli national team.

Ben Wanger, who previously played for Yale and Southern California before transferring to Miami, helped Israel qualify for the Olympics. The right-handed pitcher and utility player recorded three hits, scored four runs and drove in three more in the qualifying tournament. He also threw 4.1 scoreless innings on the mound, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out five batters.

Wanger has one season of college eligibility remaining as a graduate student.

Danny Valencia will be his teammate.

Danny Valencia throws baseball during Israel Olympic team practice, Jan. 14, 2020
Danny Valencia throws a ball during Israel's national baseball team practice, Jan. 14, 2020, in Tel Aviv, Israel. As a baseball-crazed kid growing up in Miami, Valencia dreamed of playing professionally. The thought of heading to the Olympics, for a foreign country no less, never crossed his mind.

Valencia, who grew up in Boca Raton and was a three-year starter at shortstop at Spanish River Community High School, spent two seasons with the Hurricanes before leaving school early to play professional baseball.

He made his Major League Baseball debut in 2010 and spent nine seasons in the majors, playing for the Minnesota Twins (2010-12), Boston Red Sox (2012), Baltimore Orioles (2013 and 2018), Kansas City Royals (2014), Toronto Blue Jays (2014-15), Oakland Athletics (2015-16) and Seattle Mariners (2017).

Alysha Newman celebrates after 2018 pole vaulting performance in Australia
Gold medal winner Alysha Newman of Canada celebrates after her performance in the woman's pole vault final, April 13, 2018, at Carrara Stadium during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia.

Other Olympians with Miami ties are Alysha Newman, a former All-American pole vaulter representing Canada; Aisha Chow, who became the first rower from Trinidad and Tobago to compete in the Olympics in 2016; and freshman diver Emma Gullstrand, who is representing Sweden.