July 2, 2012
With the U.S. Olympic Trials finishing up in a variety of sports (you may have watched much of them live on NBC), we finally know how many local Olympians we'll have in London later this summer.
We've got a total of four — hammer thrower Kibwe Johnson (a North Gwinnett grad), women's basketball player Maya Moore (Collins Hill) and swimmers Eric Shanteau (Parkview) and Amanda Weir (Brookwood).
For Moore, making the Olympic team wasn't as stressful as the others. She earned a spot mostly on her past credentials — an ultra-successful college career at UConn and a WNBA title and rookie of the year last year with the Minnesota Lynx. She wasn't put through the harrowing process of Olympic Trials like the other three.
Johnson won the hammer throw on the opening day of the track and field trials, eliminating the disappointment of missing past Olympic teams. He will make his Olympic debut in London with hopes to ending a history of U.S. frustration in the hammer throw.
While Johnson is a first-timer, both Shanteau and Weir are returning for their second Olympics. Both swimmers hoped for a better showing at Trials, but at least they're bound for London.
Shanteau got off to a great start at Trials by qualifying in the 100 breaststroke, but then was edged out in his best event, the 200 breast, with a third-place finish. Weir made the U.S. team as a relay/alternate swimmer with a fifth-place finish in the 100 freestyle, but failed to make the finals in her other event, the 50 free.
Weir does have something that the other three don't, Olympic medals. She won a pair of relay silver medals as an 18-year-old in 2004. I asked her recently where she keeps the medals. One is displayed in her home and the other is in a safety deposit box.
"I have one in the safety deposit box to make sure I didn't lose that one," Weir said.
Hopefully, Weir and the others will add more Olympic medals to Gwinnett's collection this summer. Moore will be on a team that's favored to win gold, and both Shanteau and Johnson have above-average shots to medal.
Multiple Olympic medals would be huge since the county's production of Olympians is a recent phenomenon. Weir was the first Gwinnett-raised athlete to win Olympic medals back in 2004.
Let me know how you think Moore, Johnson, Shanteau and Weir will fare in London this summer.