Two athletes with local ties are competing for Team USA in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Brock Elliot School graduate Chelsea Gray is on the roster for USA Basketball’s star-studded women’s team, while former Riponite Erika Brown hopes to make a splash with USA Swimming. Both are making their Olympic debuts in Japan.
Gray was named to the squad on June 21, joining the likes of four-time gold medalists Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. The 28-year-old point guard from Manteca is currently in her first season with the Las Vegas Aces, who are in second place in the WNBA.
She spent her previous five seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, helping them win the 2016 WNBA championship. She’s also a four-time All-Star and one-time All-WNBA First Team selection.
Gray was drafted out of Duke with the 11th overall selection by the Connecticut Sun back in 2014. A two-time All-American while with the Blue Devils, she’ll be the first Duke women’s basketball player to compete in the Olympics.
The daughter of James and Vickey Gray, Chelsea prepped at Stockton power St. Mary’s High where she won a state title and was named a McDonald’s All-American.
The U.S. women’s team will take part in three exhibition games to prepare for the Olympics, starting with a July 14 date with the WNBA All-Stars. They’ll take on Australia and Nigeria on July 16 and 18 before opening group play against Nigeria on July 27. France and Japan are also in Group B.
Brown has come a long way since her lone year at Ripon High. In 2013, she enjoyed a fruitful spring that began with four gold medals and two meet records at the Far Western Short-Course Championships while competing for Ripon Aquatics. For the high school season, she paced Ripon’s girls team to its first-ever league championship and won three races in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships where she crushed meet records in the frosh-soph division 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Well-traveled in her youth, the Modesto native went on to graduate from William Amos Hough High in North Carolina where she claimed state titles in the 200 free and 400 free relay. She went on to star at Tennessee where she was named Southeast Conference Female Swimmer of the Year in 2019 and 2020, garnered 23 SEC medals (18 golds) and 21 All-America certificates.
Brown is a two-time national champion after winning the 100-meter free and 50 free at the U.S. Nationals in 2019. She punched her ticket to Tokyo on June 18, finishing as the 100 free runner-up in 53.59 seconds behind Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil (53.53) during the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. Brown may also compete with the 4x100 free relay.
Swim events begin July 24 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. The women’s 4x100-meter relay heats take place that day, and the individual women’s 100 free heats are on July 28.