Why Not Illinois: Illini Track and Field Gold-Medalist Trio Brings International Glory, Success to Champaign

Why Not Illinois: Illini Track and Field Gold-Medalist Trio Brings International Glory, Success to Champaign

Why not Illinois?

That’s the mindset Petros Kyprianou has taken this year. With proven success and an impressive track record, Kyprianou is building the Illinois track and field and cross country programs into some of the most stacked and talented groups in the nation. 

A three-time USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year and two-time NCAA Championship-winning coach, Kyprianou enters his second year at Illinois and has already brought in some of the top student-athletes in the world. 

With athletes from as near as Urbana and as far away as Europe and Africa, the Illini men’s and women’s track and field teams are primed for success both in the short run and long run with Kyprianou at the helm.

“I have some connections from throughout my career in certain countries, mainly the Baltic countries, southern Europe, and Africa. Those coaches trust me, and they’ve seen the benefits of investing in those athletes, bringing them into the system, and blossoming to become Olympians,” Kyprianou said. “The world is our oyster now. There’s a lot of grinding involved. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this. It’s a process. It takes years to build this pipeline. 

“We identified those prospects, we went out and got them, and we got them early when they were at a very high level. We saw the talent. We liked their characters and their academics. There’s one common denominator among all the athletes we invite here: They all want to be champions, and they all want to go to the Olympics. That’s what I like. I feel it’s a privilege to be at Illinois. It’s a huge opportunity, and that goes both ways.”

Kyprianou has made it an emphasis to recruit international athletes, and he hopes to eventually get every continent represented within his program. A native of Cyprus, he has created lasting and impactful relationships with coaches around the world, which has allowed him to bring in some of the top prospects on the planet.

Three of these athletes – Sophia Beckmon, Viktor Morozov, and Elizabeth Ndudi – have already had the opportunity to represent their respective countries at the international level and all emerged victorious. While they each have proven success, they also embody the qualities Kyprianou looks for and fit the vision he has for every athlete who steps foot on campus.

“I strongly believe in my product, and I strongly…

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