USA Flag Bearer named for 2015 Gwangju Opening Ceremonies

USA Flag Bearer named for 2015 Gwangju Opening Ceremonies

Gwangju, South Korea -July 3, 2015 – UCLA Senior and Heptathlon Athlete Tatum Souza has been named the official USA 2015 Gwangju Games Flag Bearer.  She will lead the USA delegation of more than 580 people out at World Cup Stadium in Gwangju that is expecting a sold out crowd of more than 40,000 people.  Watch the Opening Ceremonies live: CLICK HERE

Nomination by Jack Hoyt – UCLA Track Coach

“Tatum competes in the most challenging event in track and field – the heptathlon. 2014 was a difficult year for Tatum. Shortly after straining her hamstring, Tatum’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Her father was a driving force in Tatum’s athletic career.

He was at most of her collegiate competitions cheering her on and always there to give her a congratulatory high five or comforting hug – whichever was needed. Tatum spent the spring weekends going home to be with her family and redshirted the track and field season. She stayed home last summer to help her mother as her father’s cancer worsened. It was an incredibly stressful summer with many days and nights spent at the hospital. One night Tatum was unable to sleep, she smelled smoke and discovered an electrical fire.

She woke up her sleeping parents and got them out of the house and saved the house from burning down. Tatum came back to UCLA in the fall and to my surprise, she was in the best shape of her life. She had dedicated her summer training to her dad, and while he was sick in bed, she took breaks from caring for him and did running workouts. By December her father was getting sicker and Tatum spent many weekends rushing home to be with her family. She continued to run harder and harder and started feeling pain in her Achilles’ tendon but pushed through it – training with vigor and inspiration that she drew from her father.

Unfortunately, the tendon became so sore that she had to stop running for two months. By late February, Tatum had lost all the speed and strength that she had worked so hard to attain. She started running again in March and found herself far behind her training partners. She was incredibly discouraged by her predicament. A few days later, Tatum’s father passed away from the cancer 8 months after his diagnosis. Tatum was at rock bottom. She had lost her best friend, father, and number 1 supporter of her athletic dreams. This happened just days before her final exams at Ucla and the completion of her degree. Tatum took a week off from training to grieve with her family and then got back to work on the track with even more vigor. 1 month later, Tatum competed in the MT Sac relays heptathlon and put together a career best effort and a score that in many years would place her in the top 4 at the NCAA Championships, and put her #2 all time at UCLA behind Jackie Joyner (world record holder).

Tatum has qualified for the NCAA Championship Meet and is training everyday with that same passion that she draws from her father. Her goal is to win the NCAA Heptathlon title in June, and one thing is for sure – nobody is training any harder or with any more heart than Tatum Souza. “

 Athletic Background:

Souza second team All-American in the heptathlon … Placed 17th at the national meet with a score of 5,604 points … Also a NCAA qualifier on the 4x400m relay and in the javelin … Holds the second best score in the heptathlon in school history with 5,771 points … Also tossed the sixth best throw in the javelin in school history with a mark of 145-3 … Both UCLA top-10 marks were set at the Mt. SAC Relays… Was the runner-up at the Pac-12 Championships in the heptathlon with a score of 5,636 points … Capped off her senior season with personal bests also in the high jump (5-7), 100m hurdles (14.01), shot put (45-9) and the 800m (2:16.67).

2014 – Won the pentathlon at the MPSF Championships, scoring 3,927 points … This included marks of 8.82 in the 60m hurdles, 5-3.75 in the high jump, 40-5 in the

shot put, 17-11.5 in the long jump, and a strong finish, winning the 800m in 2:18.25 … Also placed third in the pentathlon at the Texas A&M Aggie Invitational with 3,809 points … Placed third in the 60m hurdles at the NAU Invitational with a time of 8.58 … Also placed 14th in the shot put at the NAU Invitational with a season best of 40-8.75 … Did not compete during the outdoor season.

2013 – Competed in 11 meets as a junior … Earned second team All-American honors in the heptathlon by finishing ninth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships … Her 5,691 points at the NCAA championships rank sixth all-time at UCLA … Finished second at the Pac-12 Championships with 5,624 points … Won the MPSF Championship in the pentathlon with a personal best 4,023 points … Won the javelin against rival USC with a toss of 126-9 … Placed fourth at the Mt. Sac Relays with 5,587 points … Finished seventh at the Texas Relays in the heptathlon with 5,288 points … Set a personal best in the javelin of 130-9 to rank seventh all-time in the UCLA top-10 … Ran a personal best in the 800m with a time of 2:16.87 at the Pac- 12 Championships … Cleared a personal best 5-6.50 in the high jump at the NCAA Championships … Long jumped a personal best 19-0.50 at the Mt. Sac Relays … Threw a personal best 42-9 in the shot put at the Mt. Sac Relays.

2012 – Earned All-America honorable mention honors with the 4x400m relay that placed 21st at NCAAs (3:39.74) … Finished sixth in the heptathlon with 5334 points at the Pac-12 meet … Also finished 15th in the hurdles (14.14), 16th in the long (17- 6) and 17th in the javelin (118-8) at Pac-12s … Placed sixth in the hurdles (14.11) and long (17-9) and was fourth in the javelin (119-3) vs. USC … Won the Cal Invite heptathlon crown with a lifetime-best total of 5350 points … Was seventh in the high hurdles (14.37) and intermediates (1:03.05) and was 10th in the long (16-7.25) at the Pepsi Invite … Placed third in the shot (37-11.25) and javelin (110-2) vs. WSU … Was sixth in the high hurdles against both WSU and Tennessee (14.47) … Placed sixth in the 400m hurdles at the Northridge Invite (66.44) … In indoor track, finished fifth in the pentathlon at the MPSF meet (3698 pts.) … Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. 2011 – Finished sixth in the heptathlon (4906 pts.) at Pac-10s … Finished third in the javelin (123-5) against USC … RJ/JJK Invite runner-up in the heptathlon (4927 pts.) … Competed in five events against Tennessee … In indoor track, had a top pentathlon mark of 3714 pts … Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

HIGH SCHOOL – Earned three varsity letters in track, basketball and volleyball at Napa HS … Two-time Napa Valley Register Athlete of the Year … Wendy’s High School Heisman California State finalist … Three-time high school team MVP … Set school records in the long jump and hurdles … Served as track team captain … 2010 CA State Meet qualifier in the long jump and hurdles … 2009 CA State Meet qualifier in the long jump … Broke the Pacific Association heptathlon record with a total of 4641 points … Placed seventh in the heptathlon at the 2009 USATF Jr. National Championships … Napa County Volleyball Player of the Year .

PERSONAL – Born April 20, 1992 in Concord, CA … Daughter of Ronald and Jodi Souza … Has two sisters, Jill and Sydnie.