London 2012 Olympics: Six South Florida Athletes To Keep Tabs On During the Games
Dun Dun Da Dun Dun Dun Da Dun Da Dun Da
Dun. We are 24 hours away from the opening ceremony for the Games of
the XXX Olympiad. While Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade aren't joining
LeBron James on the basketball court, we've still got some serious
Team USA contenders representing the 305, 954, and the 561 at
the 2012 games in London.
But who's got time to watch every skeet shooting match and synchronized swimming showdown trying to find a hometown hero? We've got your back: Here are the five locals most likely to bag a medal in the next two weeks. We've rated their chances of winning gold on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.
Danell Leyva, Men's Gymnastics
This Homestead resident emigrated from Cuba in 1993 when he was one-and-half. Two years, later, when he decided he wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, his mom and former Cuban national team gymnastics champion Maria Gonzalez didn't think Leyva had the physique and coordination to excel in one of the most watched events during the summer Olympics. Over the past three years, Leyva has made a believer out of his mom and thousands of gymnastics fans across the country. At 17, he became the youngest member of Team USA's senior men's squad. Last year, he won the first gold medal for the American team in eight years during the World Championships in Tokyo. He was also the 2011 U.S. National all-around gold medalist. He took the top spot during the trials in San Jose last month and leads the most talented group of gymnasts since the 1984 squad that won the team gold.
Shot at a gold medal: 4.5
Venus and Serena Williams, Women's Tennis
While the Williams' sisters are California natives, they have called South Florida home for quite some time. Venus resides in Coral Gables and Serena kicks it in Palm Beach Gardens. The sibling tennis stars are also part owners of the Miami Dolphins. They enter the 2012 games as two-time defending doubles champs. Both will also be competing in singles competition, where Venus captured gold in 2000. With the tennis matches being held at the All England club, which hosts Wimbledon each sumer, the Williams' sisters should kick ass. Serena won the singles title at the storied tennis tournament in early July before teaming up with Venus to win the doubles crown. Each has won five individual titles on Wimbledon's grass court.
Shot at a gold medal: 4.9
Foluke Akinradewo, Women's Volleyball
Born in Ontario, Akinradewo moved to South Florida when she was a teen. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where she was a three-year varsity players on the volleyball, women's basketball, and track & field teams. The middle blocker was named an All-American in 2003 and 2004 and is a four time track & field champ. Her 4.0 grade point average helped her land a scholarship to Stanford University, where she was named Pac-10 volleyball player of the year in 2007 and 2008, the two seasons she led the Cardinal to a second place finish at the volleyball Final Four tournament. She leads a top-ranked U.S. national team that enters the 2012 games with a 23-1 record and is coming off three consecutive FIVB World Grand Prix titles. Akinradewo and her teammates are coached by Hugh McCutcheon, who guided the USA men's squad to gold in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Shot at a gold medal: 4.7
Sylvia Fowles, Women's Basketball
As a member of the 2008 women's basketball squad that captured the gold, Fowles is looking for the repeat this time around. According to the Bleacher Report, Team USA has a better shot at getting another gold medal than the men's team. One reason is Fowles' dominant play in the paint. In five exhibition games, Fowles averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds with a scorching .724 field-goal percentage. The Coconut Grove native led Edison Senior High School to two state championships before she transferred to Gulliver Preparatory School in 2003. She also helped Gulliver win a state title her senior year. At Louisiana State University, Fowles played on a team that twice reached the Final Four. She was drafted by the WNBA's Chicago Sky and in 2009 she became the third WNBA female player in league history to dunk at the All-Star game.
Shot at a gold medal: 5
Sanya Richards-Ross, Track & Field
The Jamaican-born Richards-Ross is another St. Thomas Aquinas alum looking to make Olympic history. She is the reigning 2012 World Indoor Champion over 400 meters and she was on the team that won the gold medal in the 4x400 relay during the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games. The former Fort Lauderdale resident also won the bronze in the individual 400 meter dash in Beijing four years ago. A member of the National Honor Society with a 4.0 grade point average during her senior year in high school, Richards-Ross was named the 2002 National High School Female Athlete of the Year, USA Track & Field's Youth Athlete of the Year and Track & Field News Women's Prep Athlete of the Year.
Shot at a gold medal: 4.5
Competition begins July 28 with live coverage on NBC and NBC Sports. Check your local TV listings for times.
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