2012 Summer Olympics: 10 Badass Houston Athletes to Watch in London
Check out our slideshow of the Texas Olympians competing in the 2012 Summer Games.
ERMAHGERD, are you squee-ing with as much excitement for the Summer Olympic Games as I am? Seriously. I am counting down the minutes until I can leave work and check out the Danny Boyle-directed Opening Ceremonies this evening. I totally cry at this shit. I am not even being sarcastic here, the Olympics is like the one time I can really jingo myself out and be all like America FUCK YEAAAAAAH *fist pump* while watching dudes in speedos do the freestyle. I've already made a spreadsheet of when all my favorite sports are going to be on TV.
And this year, good grief, the backstories are aplenty. There's kick-ass Sarah Robles, who was living on $400 a month while literally being the STRONGEST PERSON IN AMERICA (male or female) because she wasn't "pretty enough" to get an endorsement deal from Nike. Or Ryan Hall, who politely told conventional marathon-training wisdom to go eff itself while taking on the voice of God as his personal coach (yes, literally). I saw him run here in January while volunteering with the Olympic trials and got that same rush of patriotism then, too.
Then there's the Malaysian Olympian who is eight months pregnant, the rivalry between everyone's favorite pothead Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, and the fact that, for the first time ever, all 205 countries competing in the Olympics will have both female and male athletes represented. There is truly something for everyone this year.
Texas is making one of the strongest showings amongst the states, with 33 Lone Star athletes competing. Only California, New York and Pennsylvania have more. And 1/3 of them are from the Houston area. Below, check out the ten Houston-based athletes to keep your eye on during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Cammille Adams Hometown: Cypress Sport: Swimming - 200m fly
Adams, who is 21, tried out for the Olympics in 2008 but didn't make the team. Want to feel old? That means she was 17 at the time of the last Olympic trials. She got a silver medal in the 2011 NCAA Championship 200m fly, representing Texas A&M. She also loves Taylor Swift and teaches swimming lessons in her free time. Yeah. What were you doing at age 21?
Kerron Clement Hometown: LaPorte Sport: Track & Field - 400m hurdles
The Team USA website confusingly refers to Track & Field as "athletics." Isn't that kind of insulting to the competitors in other sports? Anyway, Clement won two medals in 2008: silver for the 400m hurdles and gold for the 4x400m relay. Don't hurdles just scare the absolute shit out of you? Can you imagine tripping in front of millions of TV viewers. Clement probably isn't bothered by such things though since he's a straight-up badass. Witness: in 2005 he set the world record in the NCAA indoor 400-meter by running it in 44.57 seconds. That's like 10 meters a second, which is mindblowing, and which also beat the previous decade-old record held by Michael Johnson. Clement's bio also says he is "a model and actor and appeared in a music video for Beyonce." BUT WHICH VIDEO, KERRON?
Sport: Track & Field - relays
First off, how cool is this lady's name? Dixon is one of the youngest members of the U.S.'s Track & Field team. She turned 20 during the Olympic Trials. You know those kids who always say it's their dream to compete in the Olympics? Dixon literally wrote that in her bio for the University of Kansas, and look at her now. Dixon was a high school bad-ass. While at Westside in Houston, she was the ranked Number 1 in the country for the girls' 400m and was a state champion in that event in 2009 and 2010. She's also blogging her trip to London for KU is you want to follow log on the Jayhawks website.
Sport: Shooting - double trap
Walton Glenn Eller has been to four summer Olympic Games, starting in 2000, but didn't medal until 2008, when he got the gold for double trap. I'm not sure what that means, double trap, but I bet Craig Hlavaty knows. Anyway, even without the Olympic titles, Eller has won tons of medals in the World Cup of marksmanship, and also serves in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Ft. Benning.
Marlen Esparza Hometown: Houston Sport: Boxing - flyweight
Marlen Esparza, who is 23, started boxing in 2002. Do the math. That means she started kicking ass at age 13, thanks to her father, who was also a boxer. This will be her first Olympics. You know why? It's the first time that women's boxing has been an Olympic sport. Marlen says her favorite movie is Blood In Blood Out, which is pretty hardcore. She also likes The Simpsons. I totally want to be her friend. Which is why I'm Twitter-stalking her.
Sport: Gymnastics - artistic
Jonathan Horton's bio on the Team USA website starts like this: "Horton's favorite meal is BBQ chicken, refried beans, potato salad, and a Coke." So you know from the beginning he's a cool dude. In artistic gymnastics, you have less than 90 seconds to make an impression on the judges, but he managed to do it in 2008, winning a bronze for the horizontal bar. He's married to fellow gymnast Haley DeProspero. No word yet on their plans to create a race of petite, extremely flexible superbabies.
Liezel Huber Hometown: Houston Sport: Tennis - doubles, mixed doubles
Liezel Huber, who was born in South Africa in 1976, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2007, and now she wants to represent us in doubles tennis.Way back in 2000 she competed in the Olympics for her birth country. She's considered a doubles specialist, and has won 63 doubles matches in her career. A Texan South African. I bet she has a cool accent.
Diana Lopez and Steven Lopez (far right) Hometown: Sugar Land Sport: Taekwondo - 57kg and 80k
Little known fact: I got my red belt (the belt right before black) in taekwondo in 2005. Then I promptly quit. But that explains why I lovelovelove the Lopez family, all of whom have made great strides in taekwondo in the United States. In 2008, Diana, Steven and brother Mark competed in the 2008 Olympic Games, becoming the first trio of American siblings since 1904 to make an Olympic Team.
Timothy Wang Hometown: Houston Sport: Table tennis - singles
First off, you should listen to this story I heard earlier this week on KUHF about the US table tennis team. Our entire team this year is made up of Chinese-Americans, but we still don't have a chance against the Chinese team, who've been kicking ass and taking names at this sport since 1992. Also, don't call it ping pong. This isn't some game you play in your grandparents' basement with a fold-up table. One look at Wang's online bio reveals all kinds of things about the sport I don't even understand. Such as his grip: something called "shakehands." And his rubbers, which are JOOLA (I guess that's the paddle brand?) Wang, who is 21, got into the sport by watching is older brother play. His bio also says he's "naturally ambidextrous," (HEYYY LADIES!) though he plays right-handed. Still has no chance at all to beat China.
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