Two UF professors chosen as volunteers for Beijing Olympics

Published: July 18 2008


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two professors in the University of Florida’s College of Human and Health Performance were selected as official volunteers by the Beijing Olympic Committee.

James Zhang and Daniel Connaughton will leave for Beijing on Monday and return to Gainesville on Aug. 27, two days after the closing ceremony.

This opportunity resulted from the college’s relationship with Tsinghua University, which started with Sherman Bai, director of UF’s Beijing Center. Jill Varnes, a former dean of HHP, visited Tsinghua three years ago and initiated an exchange program. When Zhang and Connaughton took UF students to Tsinghua last summer, the professors were invited to work at the Olympic Games. Zhang and Connaughton submitted their applications to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the XXIX Olympiad.

Here are some facts about the professors:


  • Professor in the department of tourism, recreation and sport management.
  • Liaison between men’s basketball teams in Group B (Team USA and Team China) and the practice venue at Tsinghua University. Duties will include facilitating the communications between Group B and the venue administration.
  • Zhang played semi-professional and professional basketball in China.
  • Received his bachelor’s degree from Tianjin Institute of Physical Education, China before moving to the U.S. to further his education.
  • 352-392-4042, ext. 1415,
  • To read more about Zhang, please see


  • Associate professor in the department of tourism, recreation and sport management.
  • Will be the volunteer supervisor at the U.S. Swimming and Diving Training Facility on the campus of Tsinghua University. Connaughton was chosen to work at the aquatics center because of his background in swimming competitions.
  • To read more about Connaughton, please see
  • 352-392-4042, ext. 1296,

To arrange interviews, please contact Michele Dye at or contact the professors directly before July 21 by phone or e-mail.