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The Buffs in Brazil: Four Colorado graduates competing in Rio

Emma Coburn, Jenny Simpson, Jeremy Dodson and Flora Duffy will compete in the Rio Games.

2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 10 Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

If you haven’t heard, the University of Colorado has an athletic department that is undoubtedly in the uppermost echelon of all of the NCAA. CU’s 27 NCAA National Championships* — 20th of all schools — represent the university as well as they could. Even more impressively, there have been over 80 Buffaloes compete in the Olympics**. In these 2016 Rio games, four graduates represent CU.

*Colorado’s 1990 football championship doesn’t count as an "official" NCAA Championship. Also of note, I’m referring only to team National Championships for simplicity.

**It’s too bad the American Football Championships don’t count because the American team was basically TBT’s Team Colorado but for football. Dan Hawkins couldn’t find a coaching job so he took over that team and hired Cody to coach the QBs (Editor’s note: lol). Former linebackers Derrick Webb and B.J. Beatty were also on the team.

Mostly overshadowing by a once great, then laughable, now rising football program and a strong basketball program, there isn’t enough talk about CU’s other sports. Those other sports have earned each of those 27 championships. CU’s skiing team has won 20 by themselves, which is second only to the University of Denver’s 23; CU’s 88 individual champions are four more than DU. (If you haven’t looked at this page, I suggest you do. CU and DU’s domination on the slopes is simply ridiculous.) The other 7 ‘ships come from the men’s (5) and women’s (2) respective cross country teams. This doesn’t even include CU’s dynasty in Steeplechase or their top-flight Cycling or Track & Field programs. To the surprise of no one, the four Buffs in the Olympics are all runners.

Emma Coburn, USA, Steeplechase (3,000m)

The United States is a classic world power in Steeplechase, but Emma Coburn is far and away the best in the country. (This is steeplechase, by the way. Coburn, the 2013 graduate, finished fifth place in this particular race.) While attending CU, Coburn won a National Championship and two Big XII titles, and set a few national records. On a national level, Coburn has won five of the past six USA outdoor titles (2013 was the exception), finished 5th in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, and was 9th in the 2012 London Olympics.

As of late, Coburn is the American record holder in Steeplechase (Jenny Simpson was the previous holder) and has only improved her times since. She’s ready to reach the podium in Rio.

Round 1 of the 3,000 meter Steeplechase starts at 7 a.m. on Saturday the 13th. The final in at 8 a.m. on Monday the 15th.

Jenny Simpson, USA, 1,500m

Jenny Simpson may very well be the greatest ever runner from CU. Simpson dominates middle distance running similar to how Coburn dominates American Steeplechase, but Simpson is such a marvelous athlete that she’s (nearly) as good at Steeplechase as Coburn. If Simpson hadn’t focused on Steeplechase, the two would probably be breaking and re-breaking each other’s records.

Before graduating in 2009, Simpson won three National Championships for Steeplechase and finished second in cross country twice. In the 1,500m run, Simpson has won the past four USA 1,500m competitions, the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and won the 2016 Olympics trials with a personal best time. Simpson probably has the best chance of any CU athlete of bringing home a medal.

Round 1 of the Women’s 1,500m run is at 5:30 p.m. on Friday the 12th, the semifinals are at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday the 14th, and the final in at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday the 16th.

Jeremy Dodson, Samoa, 200m

Jeremy Dodson, a New York native, will compete in the 200m sprint for Samoa, the island nation on his mother is native to. Dodson was an All-American for the Arkansas Razorbacks before transferring to CU in his sophomore year. Once in Boulder, Dodson was an All-American thrice more. He holds the school record for 200m sprint (20.37) and is fourth all-time in the 100m (10.27); the latter record is held by Cliff Branch.

After finishing third in the 2011 USA championships, Dodson dropped to 19th place in 2014 before changing his representation from USA to Samoa. It’s unlikely Dodson would have qualified for the 2016 Olympics if he remained on the American team.

The 200m sprint begins at 8:50 a.m. next Tuesday, the 16th. Dodson faces an an impossible challenge but will look to shock the world in his first Olympic appearance.

Flora Duffy, Bermuda, Triathalon

Flora Duffy will represent the island nation of Bermuda in the very Boulder competition of the triathlon. Before coming to CU, Duffy competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished 45th. According to an infographic I’ve been nearly plagiarizing this whole time, Duffy chose to attend CU for a change-of-pace and to get off the island. Once at CU, Duffy helped the Buffs to back-to-back-to-back-to-back Collegiate National Championships (not the NCAA).

Also of note, the Bermuda Olympic team walked the Parade of Nations in Bermuda Shorts! Literal Bermuda Shorts! The performance of Duffgirl and her teammates doesn’t matter because they’ve already won.

One question I have about doing a triathlon in Bermuda: How do you do a triathlon in Bermuda? In a triathlon, you have to ride your bike 112 miles and then run an additional marathon — a real life, literal marathon, all 26.2 miles — because this sport is insane. The entire distance from one end of Bermuda to the other is 22 miles. On top of that, it’s not like there’s a flat surface to do six laps. It’s a semi-tropical island with various cliffs, beaches, archipelagos, and other island stuff. If you ignore the reports that say she lives and trains in South Africa and Boulder, consider this: If Floraly Duff was able to train for the Olympics on her home island, then she has overcome any and all obstacles and nothing in Rio can stop her. As long as she doesn’t get sick from swimming in that water. Seriously, don’t get sick, Duffy Duck.

The women’s Triathlon will be at 8:00 a.m. next Saturday, the 20th.