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Making a splash: Western New York Olympians headed to Tokyo

Anita Alvarez (artistic swimming), Matt Anderson (volleyball), and Brian Irr (karate) qualified to represent Team USA in the Olympics.
Credit: AP
United States' Anita Alvarez performs her routine in the artistic swimming solo free preliminary at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Monday, July 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Matt Anderson from West Seneca will make his third Olympic appearance in Tokyo representing Team USA in volleyball, Anita Alvarez (artistic swimming) from Tonawanda will compete in her second Olympics, and Brian Irr (karate) from Amherst will compete in his first Olympic Games.

Anderson, an opposite/outside hitter, was a part of the 2016 men's volleyball team which captured the bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. The 34-year-old has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2007.

Alvarez, who also competed in 2016 Olympics in Rio, and her partner Lindi Schroeder will represent Team USA in artistic swimming after a scary moment at qualifying in June. The 24-year-old lost consciousness near the end of their routine, and U.S. Head Coach Andrea Fuentes dove into the pool to help Alvarez.

The Tonawanda-native was cleared to compete in another routine later that day, but eventually Alternate Ruby Remati filled in for the rest of the competition, helping Alvarez and Schroeder qualify for Tokyo.

USA Artistic Swimming tweeted afterwards "Anita is doing fine and recovering from an extremely taxing week."

The Amherst native Irr qualified for the first Olympic karate competition on June 15 and told 2 On Your Side he is feeling the love and support from back home in Western New York and is excited for "everybody else's excitement."

"For me to have the honor and the opportunity to be one of the 10 people in the world who will be competing in the Olympics in my category is just... mind-blowing to think of where I was two or four years ago... at the start of this process, when karate was announced as an Olympic sport for 2020," Irr said after learning he qualified for the Games.

Western New York will look to send another local athlete to Tokyo this week, with Fredonia's Jenn Suhr training for her fourth Olympics in the pole vault.

Credit: AP
Olympic Gold medalist Jenn Suhr listens to husband and coach, Rick Suhr during the Adidas Grand Prix Pole Vault & IAAF-Nestle Kids Event in Herald Square on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in New York. Suhr won the event. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

The 39-year-old won Gold in London, and Silver four years prior in Beijing.

Suhr will compete in the USA Track & Field qualifying on Thursday, then again on Saturday if she advances to the finals.

The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23 on Channel 2 and NBC.