Maryland Olympians: Local Reasons to Root for the Red, White, and Blue
Jul 17, 2012 06:54PM ● Published by Anonymous
Didn’t know? Don’t worry! We’ve prepared a little cheat sheet so you can watch the Olympics like a pro. So whether you’re a stat nerd, an Olympic buff, or just a proud Marylander, we’ve got a list of homegrown athletes to root for. And you can follow along with Eye on Annapolis editor John Frenaye's Maryland Olympians tweets by clicking here!
Matthew Centrowitz Jr., 1500m, Sprinter
Local connection: Born in Annapolis, his lists Arnold as his hometown (he currently lives in Oregon), and he graduated from Broadneck High School in 2007.
College: University of Oregon. (Sociology)
Career: He became the youngest American to medal in the (2011) World Outdoor Championships in the 1500-meter when he won the bronze. He is the 2011 USA Outdoor Track and Field Champion in the 1500m event, and he won bronze n the 2011 IAAF World Championship. He holds the 1500m and the distance medley relay records at the University of Oregon, and he was part of a 1-2-3 sweep for Oregon when he placed third in the 1500m at the NCAA Championships in 2010.
Fun Facts: He ran a negative split 8:41.55 to in the two-mile race in the Nike Outdoor Nationals to earn the best high school time of 2007, and set a Maryland state record of 4:04.09 for the 1600 meter race. His father, a two-time Olympian who also went to Oregon, is the head track coach at American University.
Olympic Experience: This will be his first Olympic appearance. He could potentially be the youngest American to medal in the 1500m at the Olympics.
Update: Centrowitz will compete in the preliminaries for the 1500-meter race August 3rd at 3:05 p.m. (He’s in the third heat.) The semifinals will take place on Sunday, August 5th, and the finals, on Tuesday, August 7th.
Farrah Hall, Sailing, Windsurfing
Local connection: She’s an Annapolitan. She graduated from Broadneck and attended St. Mary’s College.
Current Status: She has been on an Olympic quest for the past several years, traveling, training and competing all over the world.
College: St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Career: In college, she shifted her focus from an array of sports to windsurfing. Mike Gebhardt—a two-time Olympic medalist—came to visit the sailing team and windsurfing club at St. Mary’s, and it was during his visit that Farrah learned that windsurfing was an Olympic sport. He encouraged her to take her competition to the next level, and she’s been working toward an Olympic medal ever since. Earlier this year, she earned the silver medal at her eighth Miami Olympic Class Regatta.
Fun Facts: She started sailing small sailboats at age 13, but got into windsurfing late in high school. She also swam and competed in triathlons in high school and college. She’s played the violin since she was three, and dabbles with the guitar. Her long-term goal is to earn a PhD and become an ecology professor.
Olympic Experience: She has been associated with the U.S. National team, and participating in Olympic trials and pre-trials since 2002, but this will be her first Olympic appearance.
Update: After six (of 10) races, she’s currently ranked 20th at the Olympics. She’s off Friday, but will compete in two races tomorrow (Saturday) and two on Sunday before concluding her Olympic run with the medal race on Monday.
Carmelo Anthony, Men’s Basketball
Local connection: He moved to Baltimore at age 8. Attended Towson Catholic High School for three years and was named The Baltimore Sun’s 2001 Metro Player of the Year. He graduated from Oak Hill Academy in 2002. As an adolescent, he played for an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Baltimore Select Team.
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Current Status: Forward, New York Knicks
College: Syracuse University
Career: Entered the 2003 NBA draft after one college season, and was selected third pick overall by the Nuggets. Traded to the Knicks in 2011.
Fun Fact: He led Syracuse to their first National Championship in 2003, earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award, and was named MVP of the NCAA East Region. Also, he met Lebron James as a teenager through AAU. (The two struck up a friendship at a national high school tournament.)
Olympic Experience: He was part of the bronze-medal-winning U.S.A. team at the 2004 Olympics and won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. He set the U.S.A. Olympic game record for made free throws and free throw percentage when we went 13-of-13 against Argentina in Beijing in 2008. He scored 13 points in the gold-medal game against Spain.
Update: To say Anthony is doing well in the Olympics would be an understatement. He set a U.S. Olympic single-game high of 37 points Thursday when Team USA routed Nigeria 156-73 (an All-Time Olympic scoring record.) He made 10 of 12 three-pointers to set a US Olympic mark for 3-pointers made and attempted. (In 2008 he set the same record for free throws.) Tomorrow, Team USA will take on Lithuania at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Preliminary round play will continue at 5:15 p.m. August 6th when the U.S. faces Argentina. Olympic quarterfinal play begins Aug. 8th.
David Banks, Rowing
Local connection: Lists Potomac, Maryland as his hometown.
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Current Status: Works and trains in Princeton, New Jersey.
College: Stanford University
Career: He works for the Office of Sustainability at Princeton while training with the U.S. National Rowing Team training center nearby.
Fun Facts: He studied Urban Studies as an undergrad and Construction Management in graduate school, both at Stanford. He first began rowing at Stanford in 2001.
Olympic Experience: Finished ninth in the four-man boat at the 2008 Olympics.
Update: Banks rowed on Team USA’s 8 boat this week, and was edged out of the bronze by 30 seconds to Great Britain (Germany and Canada won gold and silver, respectively).
Debbie Dunn, Track and Field
Local connection: Originally from Jamaica, she attended Fairmont Heights High School and lists Capitol Heights as her hometown.
College: Norfolk State University
Career: She earned her first gold medal as part of a 4 x 400-meter relay team in the 2009 Berlin World Championships. She earned another in the same event in the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha. In Doha, she also earned her first individual gold medal in the 400m event. Her personal best time for the 400m race is 49.64 seconds, which she set in 2010.
Fun Facts: She became a U.S. citizen in 2004.
Olympic Experience: These are her first Olympic games.
Update: Dunn was supposed to compete in the 4x400m race, but removed herself from the Olmypic roster in July after testing positive for an elevated testosterone/epitestosterone level and an adverse carbon isotope ratio at the Olympic Trials. Team USA has brought home four consecutive gold medals in this event.
Kevin Durant, Men’s Basketball
Local connection: As an adolescent, Durant played for the Prince George’s County Jaguars, a PG County team in the AAU. He played his senior year at, and graduated from, Montrose Christian School in Rockville. He was named the Washington Post All Met Basketball Player of the Year.
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Current Status: Small forward/shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder
College: University of Texas
Career: After one college season, he entered the 2007 draft. The Seattle SuperSonics drafted Durant second overall, and moved to Oklahoma to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. Last year, Durant signed a five-year contract extension with the Thunder.
Fun Facts: Durant led the NBA in scoring in 2009–2010 and became the youngest player ever to win the NBA scoring title. He wears the number 35 jersey in memory of his mentor and AAU coach who was murdered at age 35. In 2007, he was named the Associated Press College Player of the Year, becoming the first freshman and the first Texas athlete to receive the award. The University of Texas retired his jersey number just days after the 2007 draft—it’s now one of nine Texas jerseys retired.
Olympic Experience: Durant was invited to the Team USA Basketball training camp as a college freshman in 2007, but was one of the last cuts to the USA Men’s Senior National Team for the 2008 Olympics. He helped lead the USA team to its first FIBA World Championship since 1994 in 2010, but this will be his first time representing the USA in the Olympics.
Update: Durant was the high scorer in Team USA’s victory over France, putting up 22 points. He added 13 points in the win over Tunisia, and then 14 points to help the US blowout Lithuania. Tomorrow, Team USA will take on Lithuania at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Preliminary round play will continue at 5:15 p.m. August 6th when the U.S. faces Argentina. Olympic quarterfinal play begins Aug. 8th.
Rudy Gay, Men’s Basketball
Local connection: As an adolescent, Gay played AAU basketball. He went to Eastern Technical High School in Baltimore County but transferred to Archbishop Spalding for his junior and senior years. He was named The Baltimore Sun’s Co-Player of the Year and The Washington Post’s All-Met Basketball Player of the Year
Current Status: Small forward, Memphis Grizzles
College: Gay played two seasons at UConn
Career: In the 2006 NBA Draft he was selected 8th overall by the Houston Rockets, who immediately traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Fun Facts: There was some controversy surrounding Gay’s decision to play for UConn. It was widely assumed that he would attend his hometown favorite, University of Maryland.
Olympic Experience: Gay represented the USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, where the team won the gold medal. This will be his first time competing in the Olympics.
Update: After Team USA’s men’s basketball team filed (and was granted) an extension for announcing their roster, it appears Rudy Gay did not make the cut for 2012. Here’s rootin’ for you in 2016, Rudy!
Katie Hoff, Swimming
Local connection: Hoff and her family moved to Towson in 2003 where she began to swim with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. She bought a home in Mount Washington just outside of Baltimore in 2008.
Birthplace: Stanford, California
Current Status: She is a volunteer assistant coach at Loyola College and trains fulltime.
College: Chapman University
Fun Facts: Hoff was homeschooled, and outside of training, her hobbies including writing and hip hop dancing. She swims 8-15,000 meters per day, two to five hours per day, seven days a week. In 2005 (at 16) she signed a 10-year contract deal with Speedo which, at the time was the longest athlete contract in brand history. Her mother, Jeanne (Ruark) Hoff was a basketball star at Stanford and holds the average points per game record and is the third all-time leading point scorer in school history. The 200m and 400m individual medleys are her speciality.
Olympic Experience: Hoff competed in the 2004 Games but was unable to capture any medals. In the 2008 Olympics she won one silver and two bronze medals.
Update: Katie Hoff got a stomach bug during the Olympic trials and missed her chance to go to London. Sorry, Katie!
Gao Jun, Table Tennis
Local connection: She lists Gaithersburg, Maryland as her hometown.
Birthplace: Baoding, Hebei, China
Current Status: She is currently studying economic trade at East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, China while she trains.
College: East China University of Science and Technology
Career: From 1996–2002 as an American, she was the U.S. Women’s Singles and Doubles Champion. In 2003 she won gold medals in women’s singles and doubles at the Pan American Games. In 2007’s Pan American games she won gold in women’s singles and team. This year, she became a World Team Member.
Fun Facts: She moved to the U.S. in 1994 and was inducted into the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009. She’s 43. She lists her “style of play” as “offense,” and her “grip” as “penholder.” In college, she studied economics. She started playing table tennis at age five, when her father, a table tennis fan, sent her to an athletic school (for training future athletes) in China. According to her TeamUSA.org profile, the school was a boarding school, and every day after classes she would train for several hours.
Olympic Experience: She competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and won a silver medal for China in the women’s double event (with Chen Zihe). After becoming an American citizen, she competed in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Games for the U.S.
Update: Gao Jun withdrew from the Olympic trials with a knee injury. Jun had competed in four Olympic games since 1992.
TJ Mathieson, Cycling
Local connection: Grew up in Clarksville and graduated from Loyola Blakefield High School in Towson 1999.
Current Status: He lives in Redondo Beach, California and he cycles with the Momentum Coaching Group p/b Atomic.
College: He earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering (graduated Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Notre Dame (2004) where he played varsity hockey, and an M.S. in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2008.
Career: He began playing hockey at age seven and continued that through college to his mid twenties. From there, he started spending more and more time mountain biking (which he had initially gotten into in high school) and competing in triathlons. In 2007, while he and his wife were living in Australia for a two-year work stint, he picked up track cycling and began competing with the Alice Springs Cycling Club. When he returned to the U.S. in 2008, he took fourth in the Team Sprint at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships before taking second place in the same event two and three years later in 2010 and 2011. In 2011 he took fourth place in the Pan American Championships in the Kilometer Time Trial.
Fun Facts: In 2002 he was invited to the Washington Capitals rookie camp. His teammates at Notre Dame nicknamed him “space nerd.”
Olympic Experience: This will be his first Olympic appearance.
Update: Unfortunately, TJ also missed his ticket to London. However, he responded on Twitter to a tweet inquiring about his Olympic status on July 27, “not this time, unfortunately…didn’t quite make the final cut. Would love to be there! Rio, 2016…” We’ll be rooting for you then, TJ!
Angel McCoughtry, Women’s Basketball
Local connection: Grew up in Baltimore and graduated from St. Frances Academy.
Current Status: Plays for the Atlanta Dream (Franchise Player)
College: Graduated from the University of Louisville in 2009. Led the Big East Conference in scoring, rebounding, and steals, while breaking school records for most steals in a season, most points in a season, and most points in a game. She was named Big East Player of the Year during her sophomore year in 2006–2007.
Career: Selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft.
Fun Facts: No stranger to international competition, McCoughtry also plays for Fenerbahce Istanbul, a Turkish powerhouse in the EuroLeague Women.
Olympic Experience: McCoughtry was invited to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp in fall of 2009. She represented the USA at the FIBA World Championship for Women in 2010. This will be her first time competing in the Olympics.
Update: Angel McCoughtry was the standout player, and scored 18 points in the women’s most recent victory, a 89-58 win over Turkey. Team USA is now 3-0 with earlier wins over Croatia (81-56) and Angola (90-38). The women will take on the Czech Republic this afternoon, and will round out preliminary play on Sunday against China. Quarterfinals begin August 7th and the gold medal game tips off August 11th.
Elizabeth Pelton, Swimming
Local connection: Lists her hometown as Ruxton, Maryland.
Birthplace: Fairfield, Connecticut
Career: She started swimming at age 6 and never stopped. Now, she’s a high school student, and a swimmer. She won gold in the 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2011 World Championship and silver at the 2011 Winter Nationals in the 200 individual medley relay. Also at the Winter Nationals, she took bronze in both the 100-meter backstroke and the 200-meter backstroke. She hopes to eventually become a swim coach or a sports psychologist.
Fun Facts: She loves sushi and scary movies, and her nickname is “Monsoon.” Her coach, Paul Yetter, used to coach Katie Hoff. The backstroke is her specialty.
Olympic Experience: She competed in the 2008 Olympic trials, but this will be her first Olympic Games appearance.
Update: Elizabeth Pelton didn’t make it to London—she reportedly missed qualifying by less than half a second. Ouch. Maybe 2016? In any case, we can appreciate her July 28th twitter update: “MD crabs, BBQ, family, and Olympics…Life is good!” Yes it is.
Michael Phelps, Swimming
Local connection: He’s a Baltimorean, born and raised. His home team is the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
College: University of Michigan
Career: He has practically made a career of setting records. He’s competed in the Pan Pacific (2002, 2006, 2010) and World (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011) championships, as well as the Olympics (2004, 2008)
Fun Facts: His nickname is the Baltimore Bullet. Phelps grew up watching Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe (an Australian champion three years’ Phelps’ senior). In 2008 Thorpe said he doubted Phelps would win eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. Phelps supposedly stuck the quote in his locker as motivation. Thorpe was in the crowd when Phelps captured the 8th medal, and offered Phelps and his mother celebratory congrats. In his book, Phelps says that Thorpe later said “Never in my life have I been so happy to have been proved wrong. I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Olympic Experience: Phelps competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic games and won 16 Olympic medals, including eight gold medals in 2008. At age 15, he was the youngest male to make the Olympic swim team in 2000, and the most successful athlete at both the 2004 and the 2008 games. The 2012 games will likely be Phelps’ last Olympic competition.
Update: Do you really need the update here? Phelps is officially the most decorated Olympian of all time. He’s the only male ever to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics (200m IM).
Still to come? Phelps will finish his career (that’s right! He’s set to “retire” after London) with two more events: the 100m butterfly (today) and the 400m medley relay on Saturday. So far in London he’s won two gold medals, in the 200m IM and the 4x200m freestyle; and two silver medals, in the 4x100m freestyle and the 200m butterfly.
Caroline Queen, Canoe/Kayak
Local connection: Grew up in Darnestown, Maryland.
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee
Current Status: Living in Davidson, NC attending college, considering a major in either psychology or biology. She plays on her college’s club field hockey team.
College: Davidson College
Career: She began paddling slalom at a camp—the same camp as Ashley Nee—in Darnestown at age nine. She began training with the U.S. Junior Teach coach a year later (2002). In 2006 she attended her first U.S. National Team trial at age 14. In 2007, she became the youngest women ever to make the National Team. In addition to being a student, she won 1st place at the U.S. National Championship in 2011, among other career awards.
Fun Facts: She plans to attend medical school for a psychiatric degree next. Her nickname is “Bam Bam.”
Olympic Experience: This will be her first Olympic appearance.
Update: Caroline Queen took 17th place at the Olympic Women’s Whitewater K1 event. She was penalized four seconds, and nearly missed a gate (which would have cost her an additional 50 seconds of penalized time), causing her to have to paddle back at one point.
Suzanne Stettinius, Pentathlon
Local connection: She grew up in Parkton and went to Hereford High School.
Birthplace: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Current Status: At last update, she was ranked on of the top two women athletes in the United States for Modern Pentathlon. She trains full time in swimming, fencing, riding and strength and endurance.
College: McDaniel College
Career: She competed in her first Modern Pentatholn, (which is a one-day competition that includes fencing, swimming, riding, running, and shooting) at the Canadian Nationals in 2005 (which she did “for fun”). As of November 2011, she was ranked 35th in the world. That same year she ranked 2nd in the nation.
Fun Facts: Her hobbies include foxhunting and she is an amateur steeplechase jockey. There are 40 horses on her family farm. Her sister is on a competitive crew team and ranked 7th at the Head of the Charles regatta.
Olympic Experience: This will be her first Olympic appearance. She will compete August 12th.
Julie Zetlin, Rhythmic Gymnast
Local connection: Born and raised in Bethesda.
Current Status: Training full time.
College: On hold until after her Olympic quest.
Career: Since missing qualifying for the Olympics in 2008, she won the 2010 U.S. championship, and was the highest U.S. finisher in the 2011 World Championship in France (35th overall). Won the 2011 Pan American Games championship for all around, ball and ribbon. (teamusa.org)
Fun Facts: Zetlin tore the meniscus in her right knee in 2011 and took a four-month break from training after surgery. She came back with ten days to prepare for the World Championships. Her fitness regimen includes swimming as well as boxing. Her mother was a rhythmic gymnast in Hungary.
Olympic Experience: She tried out for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but fell short. Age 17 at the time, she didn’t plan to pursue the 2012 Olmypics, unable to foresee another four years of training. But she kept practicing without Olympic plans and eventually decided to go for it. We bet she’s glad she did! Rhythmic gymnastics will begin Aug. 9