It’s triumphant enough to have one local go to the Olympic Games to represent Team USA. But to have four—four outstanding athletes with roots to our hometown (either former or current) who have made their mark this summer in Tokyo? Now that’s impressive. From 400m Swimming and Air Rifle to Rowing 4—and Street Skateboarding, we celebrate this young talented squad of Sarasotans that have done their country, city and community proud.  While you may have watched their heats and read news stories about their triumphs, we take a more personal, candid look into the lives of these ambitious athletes. Cue the flames.  [Interviews took place before the start of the Games]

Illustrations by Chris Leverett.

Illustrations by Chris Leverett

Jakob (Jake) Ilardi

Competing Olympic Sport: Men’s Street Skateboarding

Age:  24

Hometown:  Osprey, FL

Current City:  Sarasota, FL 

Beginnings:  Started at age four at Grannie’s house, learned at home and Payne Skate Park. Current Titles: Ranked sixth in the world and second in the United States. Sponsorships: Blind Skateboards, Rockstar Energy Drink, Bones Swiss Bearings, Bones Wheels, MOB Grip tape.

What excites you most about representing Team USA? 

I’m excited to hopefully inspire more kids to start skating!

Your favorite motto . . .

 “Never Give Up.” 

Your guilty pleasure . . .  

The Tonight Dough ice cream.

Your last supper would include . . .

 A plate of Grandma’s cooking.

What was the funniest thing you remember doing as a kid? 

Building my own D.I.Y. ramps and skating them. 

Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button? 

A rewind button, to get to relive things. 

If you had your own podcast, who would your first three guests be? 

Gaspar Ramirez, Tyler Hunger and Eric Matias. 

What is the scariest thing you have ever done? 

Went back to film the last trick in my Coastal Concrete video part.

Your favorite snacks of the moment are . . .

 White cheddar crunchy Cheetos, mixed fruit from Publix, and Ritz peanut butter crackers.

What song best describes your life right now? 

 “Olympian” by A$AP Ferg. 

If you could snap your fingers and appear somewhere else, where would you be? 


What do you consider the most underrated virtue? 


What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far? 

Living the life I’ve always dreamed of since I was a kid! 

What achievement/goal have you set for yourself for the next five years?

I would love to have my own house with a skate park out back. But first, I have to get Grannie a house.

What has been your most memorable or cherished moment while competing? 

My most memorable moment was when I found out I was going to qualify for the United States Olympic Skateboarding Team, and celebrating with friends, family and everyone from Compound Boardshop. 

Illustrations by Chris Leverett

Clark Atlas Dean

Competing Olympic Sport: Men’s Rowing 4, also called the “straight four”

Age:  21

Hometown:  Sarasota, FL

Current City:  Oakland, CA

Beginnings:  Sarasota Crew Rowing Club in 2012. Current Titles: U19 World Champion in Single Scull 2017 and 2018, World Record Holder U19 Single Scull, and U.S. Rowing U19 Athlete of the Year in 2015 and 2018. 

Share a recent day in the life . . .  

Wake up at 6 am to get to our first morning row at 7:20 a.m. The Olympic Team has no boathouse of its own, so we work around the schedule of the Cal Berkeley rowing team, and row out of their boathouse. Our first row goes from around 7:20 to 9:30 am. We then get off the water and go get a quick breakfast at a nearby grocery store. We return to the boathouse around 10:45 am for a shorter technical row. After this second session, we would head home to rest for a few hours before our land session of weights and indoor rowing machines, which goes from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. 

What excites you most about representing Team USA? 

Racing and potentially winning a medal for my boat, my family and my country. Since being a kid, I dreamed of being able to represent my country on a stage like this.

When you were younger, you always dreamed of growing up to be . . . 

An Olympian! I saw how much more popular the sport of swimming became in America once Michael Phelps entered the world stage, and I still dream of having a similar impact in the sport of rowing. 

Your guilty pleasure . . .  

Publix chicken tenders. 

Your favorite heroes in fiction . . . 

Captain America.

If you could snap your fingers and be anywhere, where would it be? . . .  

Sarasota! I haven’t been home since January 2, and I can’t wait to see my family after the Games. 

Your favorite heroes in real life. . .

Michael Phelps, my parents and my grandma! 

What was the funniest thing you remember doing as a kid? 

Coming up with games to play using my friend’s golf cart, which we crashed three separate times. 

Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button? 

Pause. Anyone who has seen the movie Click knows time travel is a slippery slope. I could just pause occasionally when super busy to stay on

top of my work! 

What in your mind is the biggest fashion faux pas?  

Wearing rowing gear in non-rowing settings. 

What achievement/goal have you set for yourself for the next five years? 10 years? 

In five years: Graduate from college and compete at another Olympics. In 10 years: Have a fulfilling job and meaningful relationships. 

Where would you most like to live?  

I love Sarasota and Florida, but I could see myself living in Boston after graduating from Harvard. 

If you could undo one invention in the world, what would it be?  

Social media.

What do you consider the most underrated virtue? 


Your most treasured possession?   

My used 2012 Toyota Avalon. 

Which country are you most intimated by in your sport? 

No country “intimidates” me, but the British 4- have won every Olympics since 1996 and could be considered the favorites. However, in 2019, we were less than two seconds off them, so I think we can get them.

Illustrations by Chris Leverett

Emma Wyant

Competing Olympic Sport: Women’s Swimming, 400m IM


Hometown:  Sarasota, FL

Current City:  Sarasota, FL

Beginnings:  Began swimming competitively in Sarasota at age nine. Current Titles: 2018 Junior Pan Pac Champion, 2019 National Champion, 2021 Olympic Trial Champion, 4A State Champion, Silver Medalist in Women’s 400m individual medley.

Share a recent day in the life . . . 

Currently, I am at Olympic training camp in Hawaii with the rest of the Team USA swimmers. Every morning, we wake up and eat breakfast together before heading over to our first pool workout. Getting to train with the best swimmers in the country creates the coolest environment, where everyone around you is working hard and supporting each other. After practice, we visit the weight room, where we get in our strength training and dryland workouts. Then, after a quick nap, we go back to the pool for the second practice of the day. The second workout of the day usually consists of stroke and technique work, as well as resistance training for me. We all eat dinner together as a team, and end the night with a team meeting and Team USA cheer. 

What excites you most about representing Team USA?

I’m so excited to have the honor to wear the flag on my cap and compete with the best in the world. The culture of Team USA is like no other, and I can’t wait to have more experiences being a part of it. 

Your favorite motto . . .

“I’m not defined by what I achieve, but by whom I am loved.” Someone shared this quote with me a couple of years ago and it has always stuck with me. Being an athlete, there are inherent pressures to achieve at the highest levels. But, at the end of the day, no matter the outcome, having a team and family and supporters behind you that love you and are proud of you makes every race and result worth it.  

Your favorite heroes . . .

My mom. Without her, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. She’s the most selfless and strongest person I know.

Your guilty pleasure . . .  

Chocolate. Anyone who knows me knows I’m the biggest Hershey’s fan there is. 

Your last supper would include . . . 

Any type of bread and pasta. Noodles & Company is my favorite during a swim meet. 

Athlete/coach you admire the most and look up to . . .

My current coach, Brent Arckey. I’m so incredibly grateful for everything he has done for me over the years. Coach Brent pushed me to be my best every day and gave me the confidence to believe that no goal is unattainable.  

Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button?

I would say a pause button. I think it’s hard, sometimes, to stop and appreciate where you are and what you have done to get to where you are. I would say that I am a fairly goal-oriented person so, in the past, after reaching one goal, it was always natural to have my next move be adjusting my goals and getting back to work.  

What do you consider the most underrated virtue? 

Trust. Trusting in yourself, in your coaches, in your teammates, and in your journey. My coach’s mantra is “Trust the process.” This means that, when you put your trust in your coaches and their plan, you will get the results you want in the long run.  

On the plane, you’ll be . . .

listening to Taylor Swift. She’s been my favorite since I was eight years old. So I can honestly just put her entire discography on shuffle and I’ll be happy. 

Your favorite snack of the moment are . . . 

I love Triscuits. They’re super easy to eat in-between races or take with me wherever I go.

What song best describes your life right now? 

 “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift. Being an Olympian and getting to compete in the Olympics has always been a dream of mine, and I’m just so excited to live out those dreams and perform at my best for Team USA. 

What has been your most memorable or cherished moment while competing?

Touching the wall at the Olympic trials and realizing that I had become an Olympian. The last 50 meters of the race was all that was running through my mind, so touching the wall and hearing my name announced as an Olympian was the most surreal experience ever. 

Where will your winning medal(s) hang when you get back? 

 If I get the opportunity to win a medal for Team USA, I will definitely be keeping it hanging in Sarasota to share with my family and my teammates.

Illustrations by Chris Leverett

Mary Tucker

Competing Olympic Sport: Women’s Air Rifle, Air Rifle Mixed Team, Women’s Smallbore Rifle

Age:  20

Hometown: Sarasota, FL

Current City:  Lexington, KY

Current Titles: NCAA Individual Airgun, Individual Smallbore, Individual Overall and Team National Champion. First Olympic Team Member Airgun and Smallbore (out of two, won both qualifiers). 6x World Cup Finalist, 3x World Cup Medalist. World rank #2 in Airgun, #11 in Smallbore.

Share a recent day in the life . . .

Right now, since it is summer and I am not on campus, I usually get up around 8 or 9 am, have a quick breakfast and drive to the range. Once I’m at the range, I will go to whichever gun I am shooting first and set it all up. I don’t really have a warm-up other than some quick balance board work, so then I shoot for however many hours (usually three or four) before lunch. After lunch, I typically switch to the other gun and will do that for another three or four hours before packing up and heading back to wherever I’m staying. I also go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Training for shooting is hard since there are only three facilities in the U.S.

What excites you most about representing Team USA? 

I am excited for the atmosphere the most, and getting to check another country off. I have heard a lot about how fun the Games are, and I look forward to seeing a lot of friends from other countries.

Your favorite motto . . . 

“Prove them wrong.” There are always doubters, especially when you are young/inexperienced and in a sport people don’t fully understand. 

When you were younger, you always dreamed of growing up to  . . .

 Being a veterinarian was something I thought I was going to be for a very long time, but I am too invested in shooting to ever leave it, so now I just live with a vet student.

What was the funniest thing you remember doing as a kid?

My mom said that, when I was little, I would always rub my hands together like I was plotting something evil. I think that’s pretty funny.

What is the scariest thing you have ever done? 

Shot a 600 in airgun. It really isn’t a huge deal, but because I had shot so many 599s in the past, I was extremely nervous for it. I did it, but I was shaking so bad.

Your favorite snacks of the moment are . . . 

 have a minor obsession with Haribo gummies right now, especially the little colas and the fruit ones. I like them so much that, when at World Cups, other countries will bring me Haribos that are specific to their countries so I can try them. 

What song best describes your life right now?  

As someone who can never remember songs, this is a hard question, but one song that I really like and makes me happy is “Live a Little” by Chaz Cardigan.

You have to wear a T-shirt with one word on it. What would it be?

Breathe. Things move fast and everything can be really stressful, and I have to remind myself a lot to just let things happen and focus on myself. In shooting, breathing is a big thing to pay attention to.

What are you most excited to see or try while in Tokyo?  

I always love going downtown in other countries, just because it is so different from the states. I am not sure how it will look with COVID, but I hope to at least see a little bit of it.

What has been your most memorable or cherished moment while competing?

 My first European match. I was in the final in airgun, and we had gotten down to the gold and silver medals with one shot left. We have 50 seconds to take a shot and I usually am slow, so right when I was about to pull the trigger, the other girl shot and the crowd gasped so loud that I didn’t take the shot. I glanced at the clock and it said 10 seconds. I had to take that shot so fast. I have no idea how it was a 10 but it was definitely the most nerve-wracking shot I’ve ever taken. I think I ended up getting silver by only .1; it was crazy.