Date July 29, 2021
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Medal for Bears softball great highlights Brown student, alumni athletes in Summer Olympics

Class of 2016 graduate Janet Leung earned bronze with Team Canada in women’s softball, while five other Brown Bears are competing in track and field, swimming and rowing events.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown Class of 2016 graduate Janet Leung is one of the greatest softball players in Bears history, starting all 151 games in her career, finishing third in all-time at bats (493), fifth in doubles (35) and earning All-Ivy honors in each of her four seasons on College Hill.

Now, Leung is an Olympic medalist as well.

The Ontario native and all-time Brown standout captured bronze when Team Canada topped Team Mexico on Tuesday, July 27, in the women’s softball Bronze Medal Game at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Japan.

Not only that, Leung scored the winning run, beating out an infield grounder for a single and, a few batters later, scoring from third on a sacrifice fly from teammate Kelsey Harshman.

“I couldn't be happier for Janet!” Brown softball head coach Kate Refsnyder said after Leung’s success in Tokyo. “I've literally had chills watching her compete on the Olympic stage. I've been in touch with many of her former Brown teammates and everyone agrees there is nobody more deserving... I've witnessed incredible growth since her sophomore year when I first arrived at Brown, and it’s all due to her relentless hard work and her drive to make this dream come true. It’s been surreal to watch her make history.”

Leung wrote in an Instagram post that although the COVID-19 pandemic was making for a different Summer Olympics experience than athletes might have hoped for, her weeks in the team’s host city, Anjo, were nothing short of amazing.

“The people here are what make this place so special — the mayor welcoming us in, our hosts taking the best care of us, all the restaurants making us food, the schoolkids giving us the cutest support messages and the fans who come out to support us,” she wrote on July 14, before the team’s journey to the Olympic Village. “Although we haven’t been able to interact with the people of this city like we would want to, I hope they feel the love and gratitude we have for their support and for sharing their beautiful city with us.”

Leung was not the only Brown Bear competing in Tokyo.

Rising senior Hanna Barakat, a member of the women’s track and field team at Brown, was set to run the women’s 100-meter race for Team Palestine as preliminary rounds kicked off on Friday, July 30. A native of Los Angeles, Barakat is an international studies concentrator at Brown, has served as a research assistant for the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and is an editor for the Brown Undergraduate Journal of Middle East Studies. On the track, she is the 100-, 200- and 400-meter Palestinian national record holder; her father, Mohammed Barakat, competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics for Team USA in field hockey.

Barakat told the Brown Daily Herald that her time on campus has allowed her to develop a deeper connection to her Palestinian identity and inspired her in part to reach out to the team.

“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have access to a track, to have access to a very wonderful school that provides everything materially that I could need," she told the student newspaper. "And I have an opportunity here to represent Palestine, put (its) name on the map in these spaces and do it with pride. And it’s a huge responsibility. I do not take it lightly.” 

Jagger Stephens, a Class of 2020 graduate who was a freestyle and butterfly specialist for Brown’s swimming and diving team, represented Guam in the men’s 100-meter freestyle swim in Tokyo. A health and human biology concentrator at Brown, Stephens hails from Agana Heights, Hagatna, Guam.

And three former Brown Bears rowers — Class of 2018 graduate Cicely Madden, Class of 2019 graduate Alex Miklasevich and Class of 2015 graduate Anders Weiss — are competing for Team USA in rowing events.

A Massachusetts native and history of art and architecture concentrator at Brown, Madden is one of the all-time best to emerge from Brown’s women’s crew program. An All-Ivy rower for all four years on College Hill and a multi-year All-American, she is competing in the quadruple scull event at the Summer Olympics.

Miklasevich is a Pittsburgh native who concentrated in economics at Brown. He spent the majority of his collegiate career rowing in the seventh seat of the varsity boat at Brown and had success at both the Eastern Sprints and the IRA National Championship. At the Olympics, he is rowing in the men's eight.

Weiss, a Barrington, Rhode Island, native, finished in 11th place in the men’s four at the at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. An economics concentrator at Brown, he was an All-Ivy rower as a freshman and a sophomore as a member of the Varsity Eight.

Before the games, Brown Vice President and Director of Athletics Grace Calhoun joined team coaches in a video offering congratulations to the Bears athletes and wishing them well.

“I want to congratulate all of the Olympians competing in Tokyo, particularly the Brown Bears over there proudly representing our university,” Calhoun said. “We’re so proud of you. And please know that the Brown community is rooting for you from all areas of the globe. Thank you and go Bears!”