Maryland Olympians have struck gold for years. However, on July 31, 2012, at the Olympic Games in London, England, one of the Free State's residents made history by becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympic history: Michael Phelps. With the world's eyes presently focused on his stellar accomplishments, Maryland has turned out some of the greatest Olympians to partake in the Summer Games.
Of course, Maryland has its share of Winter Games representatives as well, such as figure skater Kimmie Meissner. However, since the celebration is currently happening across the pond while most of Americans are sweltering in heat waves, let's take a look at some of the hottest Marylanders to compete in sports during months when weather conditions prompt those living on the Chesapeake Bay to complain, "it's not the heat, it's the humidity."
With three more events to swim in these 2012 Games (at time of publication), Michael Phelps stands alone on top of the podium as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Phelps is competing in his third Olympics, which has made his hometown of Towson, Maryland, the focus of the swimming community for about two decades out of his 27 years.
Other gold medalists who shared the same waters at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club (NBAC) are 1984's Theresa Andrews, 1992's Anita Nall, and 1996's Beth Botsford (below). Considering Phelps bought the club in recent years, there is sure to be a school of guppies training to add to the large pot of gold at the NBAC's Meadowbrook pool.
The 2012 basketball Dream Team includes Baltimore's Carmelo Anthony. After bringing home the gold from the 2008 court in Beijing, China, the New York Knicks' basketballer is seeking a repeat in London. Coincidentally, Anthony went to Towson Catholic High School, located in Michael Phelps' hometown.
We already know there is something in the water there. Are there lucky courts in Towson as well?
It's hard to believe, but on July 4, 2012, Olympic gold medalist and Grand Slam tennis star Pam Shriver turned 50 years old. Celebrating in London while preparing for this year's games as a television commentator, Shriver and partner Zina Garrison brought home the women's doubles gold medal from the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Korea.
Dominique Dawes was part of the 1996 gymnastics team nicknamed "The Magnificent Seven." The three-time Olympian won the 1996 team gold medal in Atlanta as part of the pack that included Shannon Miller and Kerri Strug.
Dawes also won three bronze medals, one each in 1992's Barcelona, 1996's Atlanta, and 2000's Sydney Games. With four Olympic medals to her name, she is the most decorated United States gymnast in history.
Born in Baltimore, Beth Botsford is famous for her awesome backstroke. She demonstrated her tremendous skills at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta by bringing two gold medals back to Maryland.
Botsford honed her skills at the same club as Michael Phelps, NBAC. At the Atlanta Games, she was one of the youngest competitors in women's swimming at only fifteen years old. Now 31, she owns a swimming school in Wisconsin.
Maryland has several other residents competing in the London Games. They are, in alphabetical order:
David Banks, rowing
Matthew Centrowitz, track and field
Farrah Hall, sailing
Katie Ledecky, swimming
Angel McCoughtry, women's basketball
Scott Parsons, kayak
Caroline Queen, kayak
Julie Zetlin, rhythmic gymnastics.
With much of the focus sure to be on Phelps in the days and weeks to come, Governor Martin O'Malley and Marylanders all over are proud to have each and every athlete representing the state.