Bucknell’s Boati Motau ’25 (right) competes against the Netherlands in the Tokyo Olympics
Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
" "
Bucknell’s Boati Motau ’25 (right) competes against the Netherlands in the Tokyo Olympics.

Making a Splash

2 current students are veterans of the Tokyo Games

by Sherri Kimmel

Bucknell’s Class of 2025 is a talented bunch, but only one first-year student is a veteran of the world’s premier sporting event — the Olympics. Boati Motau ’25 arrived in Lewisburg from Tokyo, after a short stay in her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa, as a key player on her nation’s first-ever Olympic women’s water polo team. She’s the second Bucknell student to compete as an enrolled undergraduate.

“The Olympics is something I’ve dreamed about since childhood, and I always told myself I’d get there,” Motau says. “I just never imagined the dream would come true so soon.”

Another Bucknell athlete who competed in Tokyo is Rayven Sample ’24, who ran in the final of the 400 meters for Team USA in the Paralympics a few weeks after Motau’s Olympic debut. Sample, a psychology and education double major, ran the 200 and 400 meters and 4×400 relay for Bucknell last year. He has an incurable joint condition that prevents him from having full motion of his hands and wrists.

“The Olympics is something I’ve dreamed about since childhood.”

Boati Motau ’25

While Motau and Sample join Olympic swimmer Dave Morley ’87 as the only enrolled students to compete in the Olympics or the Paralympics, three Bucknellians competed after graduation: Jon Robert “J.R.” Holden ’98, on the Russian men’s basketball team in Beijing, 2008; Brett Wilkinson ’98, men’s rowing, in Athens, 2004; and Cindy Ryder Matthes ’88, women’s rowing, in Barcelona, 1992.

This year, another Bucknellian had a key role at the Tokyo Olympics — Jay Wright ’83. The Villanova men’s basketball head coach served as an assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning U.S. men’s basketball team.

Motau, whose team was defeated by the more experienced Olympic competitors Spain, Canada and the Netherlands, played wing. She’s looking forward to further play as a Bison, but water polo wasn’t the only reason Bucknell appealed to her.

“It was important to me and my family to choose a school where my sport wouldn’t get in the way of my education or vice versa,” says Motau, a biology major. “The coach at Bucknell really emphasized the fact that I could play at the highest college level and still put my all into my studies.”