Fri, Aug 03 2012 04:51 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Whenever I think about the Olympics, images of gymnasts, swimmers, divers, sprinters and marathoners sweep through my mind. Like everybody else, I’ve been conditioned to think this way through years of watching the Summer Games on television.
The networks, it seems, long ago selected the mass appeal sports.
And, I’m not complaining too much. All three sports — gymnastics, swimming and diving and track and field — meld artistic expression and body mechanics into an art form.
The result is something majestic to watch.
Americans Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin appear to be generating the star power in the pool at the 2012 London Games.
Lochte won a gold medal in the men’s 400 individual medley as he attempts to supplant the iconic Phelps, winner of eight Olympic medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, while the 17-year-old Franklin became the first woman in Olympic history to qualify to swim in seven events.
As for Phelps, he entered the London Games needing three medals to become the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. He accomplished that feat on Tuesday by winning a silver medal in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, his signature event, and a gold medal in the men’s 4x200 freestyle relay to give him 19 Olympic medals.
On Sunday, he combined with Lochte to win a silver medal in the men’s 4x100 freestyle relay, with the U.S. team just out-touched by France.
Phelps entered the 2012 Olympics with the most gold medals — 14 — of any Olympian but trailed the overall mark of 18 medals owned by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
He now holds all-time Olympic records for most gold medals (15) and most gold medals in individual events (nine). His eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Game set another Olympic mark for excellence.
He has admitted the London Games are his farewell Olympics.
Franklin set a new American record in winning the women’s 100-meter backstroke after earlier earning a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4x100 freestyle relay team. Amazingly, the vivacious Colorado teen won the backstroke title just 13 minutes after competing in a 200 freestyle semifinal on Monday.
Just when you think you’ve seen everything, the Olympics continue to amaze.
A high school student in Aurora, Colo., Franklin has dedicated her Olympic performance to her home state in the wake of the deadly movie theater shootings in her hometown on July 20. In that infamous incident, 12 people were killed and 58 injured in a shooting rampage during a midnight screening of the new Batman film.
To be certain, American swimmers (and divers) have made a profound splash in these Olympic Games. Of the 17 medals Team USA won during the opening four days of competition, 12 were in swimming and two more in diving.
Shooting, archery and judo added one medal each to the U.S. overall count.
Making a splash
San Diego has ample connections to this year’s men’s and women’s water polo tournaments.
Former Coronado High School standouts Layne Beaubien and Jesse Smith are both members of the men’s team. They helped the U.S. win a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Kelly Rulon, an alumna of University of San Diego High, returns to the U.S. women’s team after winning the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Games.
The women’s water polo medal gold medal match is Thursday, Aug. 9; the men’s gold medal match is Aug. 12.
Both U.S. teams opened the London Games with preliminary-round victories. On Sunday, the American men edged Montenegro, 8-7, behind one goal by Beaubien, while on Monday, the U.S. women topped Hungary, 14-13, in another nail-biting battle. Rulon had one goal in Monday’s win.
Fight the future
A couple of local players to keep an eye on are Eastlake’s Haley Derrod and Otay Ranch’s Sarah Medina.
Medina scored a rare double by earning honors this past high school season as the 2011-12 Mesa League girls water polo Player of the Year and 2012 Mesa League Swimmer of the Year.
Derrod earned honors as the Mesa League Goalkeeper of the Year in water polo last season as a junior.
Both will be back for one more high school season and rate as top collegiate recruits.
Both have been understandably busy this summer.
Derrod is currently playing club ball for the San Diego Shores 18U girls Junior Olympic National B-team while Medina is on the Shores’ 16U squad.
Both will be in action at this weekend’s Junior Olympic Nationals that conclude Sunday at Stanford.
The two South County standouts are members of the Pacific Southwest Water Polo Association, which includes teams from Carlsbad, Del Mar, Scripps Ranch, Oceanside, La Jolla and San Diego Shores.
Both Derrod and Medina’s teams qualified to compete at the Junior Olympic Nationals with 3-1 records at the recent regional qualifying tournament.
Medina had nine goals, six steals, four ejections earned and two five-meter penalty shots drawn at the regional tourney.
Derrod, who traveled to Hungary with an elite Shores team in June, hopes to play college level water polo at an Ivy League school (interest has come from UCSD, Brown University and Harvard). She is regarded as the top goalie in the South Bay region.
While in Hungary, the Shores team played both the Hungarian 16U junior national team and the 18U junior national teams, losing each game by one goal.
Medina, who carries a 4.5 GPA at ORHS, hopes to stay on the West Coast and continue playing following high school. Interested schools include UCSD, Pamona Pitzer, Occidental, Whittier, and Long Beach State, Monterey Bay and CSU Bakersfield.
So far this summer, Medina has competed in three major tournaments. Her team went 3-0 at the Northwood Aliso Viejo, 3-1 at the Inland Empire Challenge and 3-2 at the Hale Tournament in Ontario.
Her numbers this summer: 24 goals, 31 steals, 12 assists, five five-meter penalty shots earned and 13 ejections earned.
Derrod and Medina both participated in a coaches clinic combine for the top 50 high school seniors in Southern California to showcase their talent. Coaches present were from UCSB, UC Irvine, Pamona, UC Riverside, Fresno State, CSU Bakersfield, Monterey Bay, Occidental, Whittier, SDSU, Harvard, Brown, Loyola Marymount and Long Beach.
San Diego Shores is considered one of the nation’s top club programs and qualified teams in all age groups to compete in the 2012 Junior Olympic Nationals in Palo Alto.
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