Do you feel it? Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms getting sweating? Is your remote thumb getting sore?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, I'm afraid you have come down with a fever. Don't worry, it's not a bad thing. Unlike that horrible sickness known as Husky Fever, this one is easily curable and actually quite fun.
You, my friend, have contracted Olympic fever and, lucky for you, it has come at the perfect time of year. Tonight at 7:30 the 2012 Olympics kick off
live double tape-delayed from London on NBC. After the ceremony, the events come at you hot and heavy until August 12. You can look at a full schedule of events here.
This year, however, you'll have more to root for than just the red, white and blue. As Larry Scott pointed out at Tuesday's Pac-12 Media Day, the Pac-12 is a leader in sending athletes to the Olympics. This year the conference is sending 239 athletes and coaches representing 43 different counties. Among those, Washington State is sending three athletes, each representing a different country.
Below, I take this opportunity to catch up with Aron Baynes, Bernard Lagat and Ebba Jungman to get you up to speed on them and the events they're competing in.
Aron Baynes - Basketball - Australia
While Bernard Lagat is probably the more recognizable name on a national level, Aron Baynes is definitely the most popular Olympic Coug to regular visitors of CougCenter.
Do I really need to say anything about his time at WSU? He was the big man in the middle and one of the leaders for the two greatest years in Cougar basketball in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. Sure he was a little... er... stone-handed at times, but he was one of the leaders of those teams and that Australian accent will never get old. While at WSU Baynes was named to the Pac-10 all academic team twice and was an all Pac-10 honorable mention in 2008.
After graduating in 2009, Baynes signed on with a pro team, Vilnius, in Lithuania where he helped his team to a championship in 2010. This is his fourth year on the Australian National team and he is steadily growing as a bigger contributor. In their last tournament, the 2011 FIBA Oceanic Championship, Baynes played a total of 45 minutes in all 3 games while contributing 17 rebounds and 23 points.
The "Boomers" are led by a name Eastern Washington college basketball fans know well: Patty Mills. The former St. Mary's Gael is the bright star on the team that is without it's two other big stars. Both Andrew Bogut and Kyrie Irving are choosing to sit out this years games in order to recover from injuries, leaving Australia with an under powed attack.
Injuries or not, Baynes, Mills and company will take the court on July 29 at 3:15 a.m. PDT against Brazil. The full schedule of Olympic basketball games is here and, no, unfortunately they do not play The United States.
Bernard Lagat - Track and Field - 5,000 Meter - USA
Bernard Lagat is the most nationally recognizable name on this list. Lagat is participating in his fourth games and already has two medals. He won his first, a bronze, in the 1,500 meter in the 2000 Olympics and the second medal is a silver from the same race in 2004. In 2008, Lagat qualified as the USA favorite in both the 5,000 meter and 1,500 meter events, but an Achilles injury weeks before the event hampered his final preparations.
During his time at Washington State, Kenyan born Lagat was an 11-time all-American, a four time Pac-10 champion and was named NCAA track and field male athlete of the year in 1999. He left school early, in 2000, to compete in the Sydney Olympics but he returned the next semester to complete his degree.
This year, Lagat only qualified for one event, the 5,000 meter. The first race takes place on August 8 at the manageable hour of 2:45 a.m. Pacific Time. If he does well enough in that race, he'll compete in the finals on August 8 at the actually manageable hour of 11:45 a.m. Pacific Time.
Ebba Jungmark - Track and Field - High Jump - Sweeden
Ebba Jungmark (Yoon-Mark) is a name you may not have heard of. The reason for this is probably because of her event. High jump isn't exactly the Olympic sport with the most coverage. In fact, there isn't that much coverage at all. The official Olympic website tells readers that she is 25, enjoys going to the cinema, and went to school at "Washington State University, Washington, DC, USA."
While at WSU, Jungmark took the 2008 NCAA indoor high jump title. She left WSU shortly thereafter and took third place in the 2011 European indoor championship. This year, she is trying for her first Olympic medal.
The woman's high jump qualifying round is August 9 at 1:30 a.m. PDT and the finals round is August 11 at 11 a.m. PDT.
Honorable Mention: John Chaplin
Another "participant" of note in these games is John Chaplin, the Chairman of the US Men's Track and Field Committee. Chaplin took over as head coach of the Cougar track and field team in 1973, immediately following Jack Mooberry. He led the Cougs to one NCAA title and four second place finishes on his way to four Pac-10 coach of the year titles and an introduction to the US Track and Field Hall of Fame. After retiring, he joined the US Olympic team as a coach and the Chairman of the Men's Track and Field Committee.