Congratulations to all the Virginian athletes who competed at the 2012 Olympics in London this summer, especially the five competitors who will be coming home with medals. Read below for a recap of who competed and how they did.
Track and Field
Francena McCorory, women’s 400 meters
Hampton native who attended Bethel High School, where she competed in track and set a National High School Indoor record in the 400 meters event. She is also the NCAA (Hampton University) and American indoor 400 meters record holder and recently took gold in the 2011 World Championships.
UPDATE: Finished 7th in the 400 meters final. Won gold as part of the 4x400 meter relay team.
LaShawn Merritt, men’s 400 meters
A native of Portsmouth, Merritt spent one year as a college athlete at East Carolina University after graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 2004, before turning professional at 18 years old. Won the gold medal in the 400 meters at the 2008 Olympics and also lead the 4x400 relay team to gold.
UPDATE: A hamstring injury prevented Merritt from finishing in the first heat.
Kellie Wells, women’s 100 meters hurdles
A Richmonder, Wells attended both Manchester and James River High Schools and set numerous school, district, regional, and state records before enrolling at Hampton University. Known as one of the top female hurdlers in the world, Wells tore a hamstring during the 2008 Olympic Trials, but earned national titles in 100 meters hurdles and 60 meters indoor hurdles in 2011.
UPDATE: Kellie Wells won bronze in the 100 meters hurdles with a time of 12.48 seconds.
Named 2011 Male Athlete of the Year by USA Taekwondo, Jennings is an Alexandria native who also competed in track for two years while attending T.C. Williams High School. This will be his first Olympics. See our profile in the August 2012 issue of Virginia Living.
UPDATE: Jennings won a bronze medal in the featherweight class. He lost his first round fight 8-6 to world number one Servet Tazegul, from Turkey, who went on to win the gold medal, but beat Ukraine's Hryhorii Husarov 3-2 and Brazil's Diogo Silva 8-5 to take bronze.
Men’s Indoor Volleyball
Born in Richmond, 34-year-old Priddy plays outside hitter and was a member of the US Men’s Volleyball Team that won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Priddy was named captain in 2010 and so will lead the team in London.
UPDATE: The men's volleyball team finished top of Pool B, but lost 3-0 to Italy in the quarterfinals.
Women’s Artistic Gymnastics
This 16-year-old from Virginia Beach won the State Championship in 2004 and made a big sacrifice in 2010, moving out to Iowa to be coached by famed coach Liang Chow. The gamble paid off when Douglas was named to the USA’s 2012 Olympic team.
UPDATE: Won gold in the team all-around event July 31, followed by an individial gold in the all-around event August 2. Also came eighth in unneven bars and seventh in the beam.
Women’s Field Hockey
After graduating from Centreville High School in 2001, this Centreville native helped lead the Wake Forest University field hockey team to three consecutive NCAA National Championships. Laubach joined the USA National Team in 2005.
Virginia Beach native and 2003 graduate of Salem High School, in 2006 Nichols became the first woman in Colonial Athletic Association history to be named both CAA Player of the Year and CAA Defender of the Year in the same season, while attending Old Dominion University. She played on the 2008 Olympic team which was eliminated at the pool stage.
A Midlothian native and 2004 James River High School grad, Taylor holds the career record for points at the University of Richmond despite playing only three seasons there. Transferred to Syracuse University for her senior year and earned All-America honors. Named to the National Team in 2010.
UPDATE: USA beat Argentina 1-0 in Pool B with a goal from Shannon Taylor. However, they lost to Germany, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand (though Claire Laubach scored in that game.) USA plas Belgium in the 11th/12th place playoff on August 10.
Nina Ligon, individual equestrian (competing for Thailand)
A dual U.S. and Thai citizen who has competed for both countries, and currently resides on her farm in Esmont. After graduating from the Collegiate School in Richmond in 2010, the 19-year-old deferred her early acceptance to Stanford University to concentrate on making the Olympics. Competing in the individual category, Ligon will be the first female event rider from Asia to ride at the Olympics.
The Olympic equestrian events will begin on Saturday, July 28 and will continue until August 9.
UPDATE: Finished 41st in individual eventing.
Karen O’Connor, three day event equestrian
Though originally from Massachusetts, Karen O’Connor now lives in The Plains in Orange County. At 54, she is Team USA’s oldest Olympian. London 2012 will be O’Connor’s fifth Olympics, and she already has a team silver from the 1996 Olympics and a team bronze from the 2000 Olympics.
UPDATE: Finished 9th in individual eventing.
Will Coleman, three day event equestrian
In his first Olympics, 29-year-old Will Coleman will compete in the three day equestrian event. University of Virginia-graduate Coleman hails from Gordonsville and will ride his horse Twizzel in London.
UPDATE: Finished 37th in individual eventing.
Matt McLean, freestyle
Grew up in Sterling, attended Potomac Fall Highs School and swam at the University of Virginia, graduating in 2011 with a degree in sociology.
UPDATE: Won a gold medal as part of the 4x200 meter freestyle relay team.