Rovelto named to Team USA staff for Rio Olympics

K-State Athletics Communications

Kansas State University's track and field head coach Cliff Rovelto has been named to the Team USA staff at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo: K-State Athletics Communications)

Kansas State University's track and field head coach Cliff Rovelto has been named to the Team USA staff as an assistant coach for the men’s team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As Rovelto wraps up his 23rd year heading the Wildcat track program, the announcement marks the first time in his career he will coach at the Olympic Games. 

Coming off a strong 2015 campaign, Rovelto was selected as the Big 12 Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year and also swept the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Midwest Region Women’s Coach of the Year honors. The Wildcat women in particular dominated, posting runner-up conference finishes both indoors and outdoors, while also placing top-10 (T-9th) at NCAA Outdoors for the first time since 2002. 

Rovelto said he is honored to be a part of a staff of just 12 individuals. 

“I consider it a wonderful honor to have the opportunity to assist our athletes and staff in such a meaningful competition,” Rovelto said. “I have enjoyed my experiences on USA and America’s teams in the past, but the Olympics is the ultimate competition in our sport.”

Helping the men’s team in the jumps and combined events specifically, Rovelto will make his 10th career coaching appearance on the international stage for the United States. He last helped coach Team USA in 2014, where he served as an assistant coach at the IAAF Continental Cup in Morocco and as the women’s head coach at the Thorpe Cup in Marburg, Germany. His earliest assignment came as the Team USA decathlon head coach at the 1997 Thorpe Cup. 

An internationally recognized authority in the combined events who helped write and teach the curriculum for the U.S. combined events coaching education program, Rovelto is a Level III combined event instructor. His athletes at K-State have accumulated 26 All-American certificates, 18 conference titles and four national titles including Akela Jones, who won the heptathlon national title this past season with a school record performance. 

His work in the jumps are just as impressive, with Wildcat athletes combining for 59 All-American certificates and 32 conference titles in the high jump and 25 All-American certificates and 19 conference titles in the long and triple jump. This past season saw the high jump group of Christoff Bryan, Nate Gipson, Jones, Alyx Treasure and Kim Williamson combine for eight All-American honors, with Williamson in particular sweeping the conference titles and finishing runner-up at Outdoors — the second-straight year K-State has had a women’s high jumper finish second at the national meet. 

Internationally in the high jump, Rovelto was most notably the personal coach for all three men’s high jumpers of Team USA at the 2012 London Games — the only coach to single-handedly represent an individual event in that manner. He guided K-State’s own Erik Kynard '13 to silver that year and has overall coached 14 individuals to the Olympic Games a total of 18 times. 

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