Past and present Olympians with connections to the California Community Colleges

 Flavio AlfaroUSA, baseball - College of the Canyons

Former College of the Canyons second baseman Flavio Alfaro, who was a member of the college’s 1981 State Championship baseball team, participated in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles as part of Team USA. Because baseball was introduced as a demonstration sport that year, no medals were awarded. However, the team — which also included future Major League Baseball superstars Mark McGwire, Barry Larkin and Will Clark — would eventually finish in second place, losing to Japan, 6-3, in the title game.

Ryan Bailey

Ryan Bailey - USA, Water polo - Long Beach City College men's assistant water polo coach

CAREER: The former Long Beach City College men's water polo assistant coach fired in six goals at the 2012 FINA World League Super Final... Tallied eight goals en route to winning gold and an Olympic Games berth at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico...Led the team shooting with 52 percent and tied for team lead with 11 goals scored in a sixth place finish at the 2011 FINA World Championships...Was second on the team with seven goals during fourth place finish at FINA World League Super Final in Florence, Italy...Tallied a team high of 12 goals in a fourth place finish at the 2010 FINA World Cup... Registered 10 goals in a fifth place finish at the 2010 FINA World League Super Final...Posted five goals in a fourth place finish at the 2009 FINA World Championships, his sixth World Championship, most among USA players... Earned a Silver Medal at 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China scoring seven goals and handing out one assist… One of the premier centers in the water polo world…Tallied seven goals in Silver Medal finish at the 2008 FINA World League Super Final… Scored twice in upset victory over #1 Croatia on May 31… Tied for team lead with seven goals at 2007 FINA World League Super Final… Second on team in scoring with 10 goals at 2007 Pan American Games… Tallied eight goals at 2007 FINA World Championships…Named MVP of 2006 ASUA Cup...Only American to play in final four in European League...

NOTES: Holds the team record in the bench press at 385 lbs. and has the fastest recorded shot on the team at 54 mph.

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year in 1998... Four-time All-American at UC Irvine...Tallied 104 goals in his senior season at UC Irvine.

Attended Millikan High School in Long Beach, CA.

PERSONAL: Cites Ted Newland, his former coach at UCI, as his biggest influence in water polo….Says his best moment in a game was when he scored the opening goal at the 2004 Olympics… Began playing water polo when his older brother, Joe, began playing for Wilson High School.

Lacy BarnesUSA, discus - Reedley College

Before becoming a psychology teacher at Reedley College, Barnes was the U.S. women's discuss national champion in 1988, 1991, and 1996. She competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the 1991 and 1997 World Championships, the World University Games in 1989 and 1991, the Goodwill Games in 1990 and 1998, the 1993 Olympic Festival and the 1991 Pan American games where she won a bronze medal. She was the No. 1-ranked American discuss thrower in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1996. At Fresno State, Barnes was a three-time NCAA All-American, placing second in the NCAA Championships in 1985, 1987, and 1988. She also won the 1997 women's discuss in the USA Mobil Championships.

From the Bob Elias Kern County Hall of Fame

Shannon BoxxShannon Boxx - USA, Women's soccer - Saddleback College women's soccer asst. coach

Shannon Boxx's rise to the National Team is a unique story in that she made the 2003 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup Team without ever previously earning a cap - the only player in history to do so. The former Saddleback College women's soccer assistant coach was one of the revelations of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup … Developed into one of the world’s best defensive midfielders and had started every game but one that she played since debuting in 2003 with a goal against Costa Rica in her first World Cup match…

She started the Gold Medal game against Japan in the 2012 Olympics after not playing in a qualifying game due to a hamstring injury but helped lead her squad to a 2-1 victory over the defending world champions.

Boxx had started 147 of her 153 career matches heading into 2012 … Has scored in four of the five matches she has played at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., just minutes from her hometown of Redondo Beach.

2011: Once again had a stellar year in the center of the midfield for the USA, starting all 17 games she played while scoring one goal (against Finland at the Algarve Cup) with two assists … Played 1,344 minutes and became one of just 16 players to surpass 150 caps for the USA … Started five matches at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, playing every minute, and was named to the FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Team … Made the first penalty kick in the dramatic shootout triumph against Brazil in the quarterfinal.

2010: Started all 18 matches the USA played, one of just two players to do so, and her 1,399 minutes were third on the team … Scored one goal, the 21st of her career, in a win against Mexico … Had five assists on the year … Started all five matches at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament, registering two assists, and played all 180 minutes in the two-leg WWC playoff against Italy.

2009: Continued her consistent run in the center of the U.S. midfield by starting seven of the eight matches the USA played and playing in them all, scoring two goals … Scored the tying goal in regulation with just seconds left in the championship game of the Algarve Cup and opened the scoring with an early goal during a 4-0 win against Canada in Toronto … Led the USA in minutes played with 614.

2008: Displayed the form that has made her one of the world’s best at her position, starting all 33 games she played … Finished second on the team in minutes played with 2,807 … Scored just one goal, but it was a crucial game-winner in a 1-0 victory against China in January to give the USA the Four Nations Tournament title … Played every minute of all six matches at the 2008 Olympics and was one of the USA’s most important players … Assisted on the game-winning goal in the Olympic quarterfinal win against Canada … Was on the 10-player short list for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.

2007: Returned to the U.S. team at the Algarve Cup after recovering from major knee surgery, starting against Finland in the second group match and playing 90 minutes before coming off the bench in the final two games … Tallied her first goal of the year, and first since her injury, against Japan with a header in a 4-1 win against Japan on July 28 at Spartan Stadium … Started 14 of the 18 games she played, scoring four goals with three assists … Scored against England in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal … She started four of the five games in the Women’s World Cup, but was given an undeserved red card in the semifinal against Brazil and was suspended for the third-place match.

Other U.S. National Team highlights: Scored her first career hat trick against Trinidad and Tobago at the 2004 Olympic qualifying tournament in Costa Rica … Started all six games at the 2004 Olympics, scored the opening goal of the tournament against Greece and had the game-winning assist against Japan in the quarterfinal … She captained the FIFA Women’s World All-Star Team against Germany in Paris in May, leading her team to a 3-2 victory … Named MVP of the prestigious Algarve Cup tournament in Portugal in March as the USA defeated Norway, 4-1, in the title game … Finished seventh in the voting for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year …2003:Played in the final two matches before the Women’s World Cup, her first two career caps and starts, and scored goals in both games … Started all five games in which she played at the 2003 Women’s World Cup … Scored against Sweden in the opening game of the tournament and also against Canada to help clinch the third-place match, which was the 1,000th goal in U.S. WNT history … She was one of three U.S. players named to the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Team … Set a U.S. record by scoring in her first three matches, against Costa Rica and Mexico right before the Women’s World Cup, and then in the tournament opener against Sweden .

Personal: Full name is Shannon Leigh Boxx … Nickname is “Boxxy” … Graduated from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and African-American studies … Her sister Gillian won a gold medal in softball at the 1996 Olympics and is now a firefighter in San Jose, Calif. … She and her sister have identical Olympic rings tattoos on their ankles … Also played softball, volleyball and basketball in high school … The Ocean League Scholar Athlete in 1995 and her high school’s female athlete of the year … A three year honor roll member in both high school and at Notre Dame … Participated in the Avon 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer Research from Santa Barbara to Malibu, Calif. … Favorite meal is Mom’s homemade chili … Always tries to eat banana pancakes the morning before a game … Loves stale Peeps … Favorite non-soccer athlete is Michael Jordan … Prior to breaking into the national team, she was accepted into a master’s program for clinical psychology at Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif.

Linda ChisolmUSA, volleyball - College of the Canyons

Former College of the Canyons volleyball player Linda Chisholm (1976-77), who eventually became an All-American at Pepperdine University, was an Olympian at the 1984 games in Los Angeles. Chisholm helped Team USA win a silver medal behind China. Chisholm was inducted into the College of the Canyons Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the California Beach Volleyball Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lashinda DemusLashinda Demus – USA, 400 meter hurdles – College of the Canyons asst. track coach

At the age of two, Lashinda Demus's mother introduced her to the track, not realizing that her admiration for running would eventually lead her to a No. 1 world ranking in the 400 meter hurdles. In 2001, Demus set the national high school record in the girls' 300 hurdles, and then went on as a freshman to help South Carolina win its only NCAA track and field championship. In 2005, she earned the first of two national titles in the 400 meter hurdles. She’s currently an assistant track and field coach at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

Now she’s in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London representing Team USA and won a silver medal in the 400 hurdles.

Despite her success on the track, Demus will be the first one to tell you there is no substitute for hard work. In the latter part of 2006, the world's top ranked hurdler revved up for the family life. After marriage and pregnancy, Demus gained more than 50 pounds. Demus delivered twin boys in June 2007 and was back in training just weeks later and soon recaptured her No. 1 status.

Her return wasn't an easy transition, and there were many setbacks including finding a balance between her physical, emotional and spiritual self. For the better part of a year, Demus struggled with post partum depression. At the peak of her career, she was forced to filter through the feelings of being trapped and alone while juggling a career, husband and babies. True to form, she overcame these obstacles to find the balance required to maintain optimum health, her position as a hands-on mother and wife, as well as an elite athlete at the top of her career.

Only six weeks after birth, Demus's mother, Yolanda, a former NCAA champion, became her coach and helped bridge the gap with drills that included cardiovascular activity, strength training and adherence. Months later, Lashinda was working out at an elite level just in time to compete at the 2008 Olympic trials. She led for most of the race but slowly faded to fourth missing the Olympic 400 meter hurdle team by .14 seconds. The loss only increased her drive to succeed.

In the 2009 season, Demus lit up Europe running World leading times in four out of seven races. She set World best times in Monaco, London and Crete, Greece. Demus posted the then fourth-fastest time ever when she blistered the track with a personal best of 52.63 and beat the 2008 Olympic champion. A month later Demus went under 53 seconds after a flawed race in the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, running a time of 52.96 for the silver medal (also 11th fastest time in history) and securing gold in the 1,600 meter relay.

During the 2010 season, Demus competed in the Diamond League, which is comprised of 14 meets spread across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Demus finished with the Diamond League Champion title and a No. 1 world ranking.

At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea Demus won the gold medal in 52.47, a new American record and the third fastest time in history. She beat reigning Olympic champion and defending World champion Melaine Walker, who finished second.

Now, Demus is preparing to bring home the gold in the 2012 Olympics. With nothing but love for her sport and a heart to help, she can be found giving back the community through various organizations as well as volunteering at many marathons in her region. If asked about her motivators, she will simply respond, "I get up every morning and take my body to max capacity,” Demus said. “I want to be the best … a world record holder and gold medalist. I've been working so hard. I wouldn't let a little more hard work stop me!"

From www.lashindademus.net.

Becky Dyroen-LancerBecky Dyroen-Lancer - 1996 Olympic gold medalist, synchronized swimming - De Anza & Saddleback colleges

Becky Dyroen-Lancer credits the multiple class offerings at her local community colleges for helping her to become the most decorated synchronized swimmer the United States has ever produced.

"I attended De Anza College from 1989-1993 taking classes part-time and training full-time for the U.S. team," said Dyroen-Lancer, now a synchronized swim team coach in Gainesville, Fla. "I won the team gold medal in the Summer Olympics in 1996 and after the Olympics I moved down to Southern California and took a couple more classes at Saddleback College before transferring to UC Irvine. The California Community Colleges allowed me to train full time as an Olympic athlete and to get through my college general ed."

She became a national team member in 1988, and just three years later at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba, she became a solo champion. She later became a solo, duet and team champion at the French Open and team champion at the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Cup, Mallorca Open, and at the Perth World Championships. In 1992, she was the silver medalist at the U.S. Nationals and U.S. Olympic Trials and gold medalist at the Swiss Open in solo, duet, team and figures.

From 1993 until she retired in 1997 she never lost a FINA international competition. In 1994, she was the most decorated athlete at the Rome World Championships, winning gold medals in solo, duet, figures and team. In 1995, she was awarded the FINA Prize, the most prestigious award the international aquatic competition organization presents to a competitor. Dyroen-Lancer is the first and only synchronized swimmer to receive the award.

In 1995, Dyroen-Lancer won solo, duet, team and figures titles at the Pan American Games, FINA World Cup and U. S. National Championships. At the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials she was elected team captain. The only synchronized swimming event at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics was the team event. As team captain, Becky led the U.S. Team to the gold medal with a perfect score of 100. The team’s five-minute routine was entitled "Fantasia on the Orchestra."

Becky was Swimming World magazine's World Synchronized Swimmer of the Year 1993, 1994, 1995; an Amateur Athletic Union Sullivan Award nominee in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and a United States Olympic Committee Top 10 Sportswoman of the Year. She later performed in the popular Cirque du Soleil’s “O” aquatic production "O."

Becky Dyroen-Lancer was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2004. Becky, with husband Kevin Lancer, has three boys – Dyroen, Thomas and William.

Johnny GrayUSA, track and field - Santa Monica College

Johnny Gray is a four-time track and field Olympian who won a bronze medal in the 1992 Games in Barcelona in the 800-meter run. Gray’s two-decade career as a competitive sprinter spans four Olympic games. He also twice won the gold at the Pan American Games. He still holds the American 800-meter indoor and outdoor records (1:42.60). Gray attended santa Monica College from 1979 through 1980 and graduated from Arizona State University in 1982.

Denean HillUSA, track and field - College of the Canyons

Long before she ever entered the coaching ranks, current College of the Canyons assistant track coach Denean Hill made a name for herself as a three time Olympian (1984, 1988, 1992) and gold medal winner, as part of the 4x400-meter relay team from 1984. At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, Hill earned a silver medal as part of the same 4x400 team, before going on to run in the same event at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Her 4x100 team did not medal i in Barcelona.

Flo HymanUSA, volleyball - El Camino College

After opening eyes throughout the volleyball world during her freshman year at El Camino College in 1972-73, the native of Inglewood, Calif. became the first woman ever awarded an athletic scholarship at the University of Houston and joined Team USA in 1974. For a decade the 6-foot-5 middle blocker was the superstar of her sport. The U.S. boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow denied her an opportunity at a gold medal at her peak, but at the 1981 World Cup she was selected the tournament’s outstanding player. She remained with Team USA through the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where she led the team to a silver medal.

From Affinity Online magazine's story on Flo Hyman

 Sim InessGarland Simeon "Sim" Iness - USA, Discus gold medalist 1952 Olympics - El Camino College Compton Center, Porterville College

Sim Iness first attended college at Compton College, now El Camino College Compton Center, where he won the National Junior College discus championship in 1949. He also was a member of the winning Compton football squad along with future NFL Hall of Famer "Hurricane" Hugh McElhenny, which won the 1948 Junior Rose Bowl game, becoming National Junior College champions. He then transferred to the University of Southern California where he won the NCAA discus championship in 1952 and 1953.

Iness won gold in the discus in 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland with a throw of 180.5 feet. His gold medal triumph started the longest USA winning streak in the discus event in modern Olympic history. He set the discus world record on June 28, 1953 in Lincoln, Neb. at 190.05 feet and became the first man to throw farther than 190 feet.

He went on to appear in two Hollywood films, "Lady Godiva of Coventry" with Maureen O'Hara and "Sign of the Pagan" with Jack Palance and Jeff Chandler, both in 1954. He was an Olympic torch bearer for the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics.

At Tulare Union High School, Iness was a classmate then Olympic teammate with decathlon champion Bob Mathias. Weeks after his high school graduation, and on his 18th birthday, Iness placed sixth in the discus in the 1948 Olympic Trials.

After his 1952 Olympic and world record triumph, Iness worked the rest of his life as a high school and college physical education teacher, track and football coach, and education counselor. He retired from teaching and counseling at Porterville College in 1994 and passed away two years later.

Iness is a member of the 2012 class of the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is the highest honor bestowed in California community college athletics. In addition to the California Community College Sports Hall of Fame, Iness is also a member of the Tartar Athletics Hall of Fame, Tulare High School Redskin Hall of Fame, Northern California Track and Field Hall of Fame, International World Throwers Congress Hall of Fame and the University of Southern California Athletic Hall of Fame.

 Kibwe JohnsonUSA, hammer throw - Moorpark College

Kibwe Johnson transferred to Moorpark College from the University of Georgia in 2002 and won the California Community Colleges championship in the hammer and set the school record in the discus in 2003. He also was a safety on Moorpark's 2002 football team that won 10 games. He won the 2011 and 2012 United States men's hammer throw championships and qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He finished in ninth place overall but unleashed a season-best throw of 253 feet, 2 inches in qualifying. In the finals, Johnson could only manage a throw of 245 feet, 10 inches.

Alan KnipeAlan Knipe - USA, Men's volleyball - Orange Coast College player; Golden West College head volleyball coach

USA Volleyball named Alan Knipe its U.S. Men’s Team head coach on April 1, 2009.

In his first season with the team, Knipe finished with a 16-6 record, including a victory at the World Championship Qualifier, a second-place finish at the NORCECA Continental Championship and a sixth-place finish in the FIVB World League.

In 2010, he led the U.S. Men to a 14-7 record, including a sixth place finish at the FIVB World Championship and an eight place in the FIVB World League.

To coach the U.S. Men, Knipe, 41, took a leave of absence from Long Beach State, where he has been the head coach for the past nine years. Two of Knipe’s former players – David Lee and Scott Touzinsky – were members of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team that won the gold medal in 2008 in Beijing. Knipe was an assistant coach when U.S. Team Captain Tom Hoff played at Long Beach State. Knipe spent one year at Orange Coast College before transferring to Long Beach State to play volleyball. In the 1994 and 1995 seasons, Knipe served as the head men's volleyball coach at Golden West College. In his second season, the Rustlers won the California State JC title and Knipe was named California State Coach of the Year.

“Anyone who gets involved with volleyball sets their sights on being involved with the Olympic team,” Knipe said. “I don’t think that changes from your playing days to your coaching days.

“I would not have been able to take this position if I did not work at Long Beach State. They were great to work with in making this happen and giving me a leave of absence.”

Knipe took over for Hugh McCutcheon, who guided the U.S. Men’s Team to victories at the 2008 FIVB World League and the Beijing Olympics. McCutcheon took over the U.S. Women’s Team in January.

“I think Alan will do a great job continuing the success of the men’s program,” McCutcheon said. “He’s an excellent coach with a lot of collegiate experience that will allow a seamless and successful transition into the international arena.”

Knipe has a long relationship with USA Volleyball. Most recently, he served as the head coach for the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2008 Pan America Cup in Winnipeg, Canada, where it won a gold medal.

He was the head coach for the U.S. Men’s Team that won a bronze medal at the 2007 World University Games in Thailand.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to work with these great athletes. There is a very good and successful group coming back from the Olympics,” Knipe said. “A lot of these guys have a lot of great volleyball left in them. Plus, I worked with many of the younger players during the past two summers and they are a nice group."

Knipe has run the Southern California tryouts for USA Volleyball’s high performance department since 1999. He was an assistant coach for the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team in 1999 and has helped at high performance camps in other years.

Knipe also played on the U.S. National Team in 1992-93 and competed at World League.

Knipe is in his 17th year with the 49ers men's volleyball program, including three years as a player (1990-92) and five years as an assistant (1996-2000). Long Beach State is ranked seventh in the most recent Bison/AVCA Division I-II Men's Coaches Top 15 Poll

In his nine seasons as the head coach of the Long Beach State, Knipe has led the 49ers to one NCAA final (2004) and one semifinal appearance (2008) along with six other postseason appearances in nine years. He earned 2008 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Coach of the Year honors and was also named 2008 Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year as Long Beach State advanced to the NCAA semifinals behind AVCA co-Player of the Year Paul Lotman.

Knipe was named the 2004 AVCA National Coach of the Year when he guided his squad to an appearance in the NCAA Championship match, where it fell to BYU.

Knipe played at Long Beach State from 1990-92, winning the NCAA Championship in 1991 and being named All-America in 1992. Knipe graduated from Long Beach State in 1992 with a degree in communications.

Knipe played on the Bud Light 4-Man Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and has won seven USA Volleyball National Open Championships with Team Paul Mitchell.

In 1995, Knipe played for Spoleto in the Italian Pro League and in 1996 he played for the Zellik Club in Belgium.

Knipe lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., with his wife, Jennifer, and their two sons, Aidan and Evan. The U.S. Men’s Volleyball Team trains at the American Sports Centers in Anaheim, Calif.

Lenny KrayzelburgUSA, swimming - Santa Monica College

Lenny first attended Santa Monica College where he won both the 100 and 200-yard (180 m) backstroke junior college titles. His coach at Santa Monica recognized his talent and recommended him to Mark Schubert at the University of Southern California. Lenny transferred to USC. In 1995, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Three years later, he became the first swimmer since 1986 to sweep the backstroke events, 100 m & 200 m, in the World Championships. In 1999, Krayzelburg broke the 50-, 100- and the 200-meter world records respectively, setting the clock on 24.99, 53.60 and 1:55.87. He was then recognized as the top backstroke swimmer in the world and one of the best in the history of this swimming style. He continued to dominate at the Sydney 2000 Olympics backstroke, shattering the Olympic record and nearing his own 1999 world record with 53.72 in the 100, while making another Olympic record in the 200 with a 1:56.76. He also played an important role in helping the American team win a gold medal in the 4x100 m relay with a new world record of 3:33.73. In the 2004Olympics in Athens, Greece, Krayzelburg won his fourth gold medal as a member of the 4x100 medley relay team.

Nic LongNic Long – USA, Bicycle Motocross – Grossmont College

Nic Long didn’t have a particularly great day at the USA Cycling Olympic Trials held in Chula Vista on June 16. He finished in the middle of an elite eight-rider pack and didn’t think his ticket to the Summer Games in London would be stamped. But his third place standing throughout the racing season was enough for the USA Cycling and the U.S. Olympic Committee to fill out the American roster by awarding the Grossmont College alum a discretionary spot on the team and give him that ride across the pond, as the Brits say.

Participants who had previously been named to USA Cycling's BMX men's long team, competed in two time trials, three motos, and a single, main event final in Chula Vista to determine a winner, who then earned an automatic nomination to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.

The announcement that Long made the team came Saturday (June 16) night at the BMX Hall of Fame banquet at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, just hours after Long was knocked out in the semifinals of the U.S. Trials held on a replica course of the London Games.

Long claimed his first World Cup win in 2010, upsetting Olympic gold medalist, Maris Strombergs. Long also scored the national title for men's elite BMX racing earlier the same year.

Long joined USA Cycling's BMX Development Program in 2008, got into the sport thanks to his father, who also rides, and the fact that - according to Long - his father hated the drama of kids’ team sports. So baseball was out for the youngster, who joined his dad at the track close to their Lakeside, Calif. home and became an Olympian.

Long told USA Cycling that he loves traveling the world, doing what he loves to do and seeing people who share the same enthusiasm. He’ll combine both loves this summer in merry, old England.

Courtney MathewsonCourtney Mathewson – USA, Water polo – Long Beach City College asst. water polo coach

Courtney Mathewson was tired. Tired of all the countless laps and countless hours spent in the pool building up stamina for the competitive swim season. Water polo looked like it was a lot more fun, so she gave the sport a try and it changed her life.

Now the former UCLA student and current Long Beach City College assistant water polo coach is an Olympian.

Mathewson, 25, is an attacker for Team USA and helped her squad take the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics with an 8-5 victory over Spain. It was the first gold medal for the United States women's water polo team following a silver in 2008 in Beijing, China. She joined the national team in 2009 after an outstanding collegiate career for the Bruins, having helped UCLA to four consecutive NCAA titles. She was named the NCAA’s outstanding women’s water polo player after her senior season in 2008.

With Team USA, Mathewson has led the Americans to even more success. She scored four goals for Team USA at the 2012 FINA World League Super Final; led the team in scoring with 14 goals on the way to a gold medal and Olympic berth at the 2011 Pan American Games. In the championship game against canada, Mathewson scored four goals in a 27-26 thriller. She scored five goals as part of a sixth place finish at the 2011 FINA World Championships and tied for team lead with seven goals during Team USA’s gold medal run at 2011 FINA World League Super Final in Tianjin, China.

Other than that disappointing sixth place finish, Team USA has never finished worse than first in an international competition with Mathewson on the point. Mathewson played professional in Australia and Spain from 2008-2010. As prep star at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, Calif. she was named All- California Interscholastic Federation and All-Century League all four years of high school.

Mathewson's Long Beach City College Lady Vikings squad finished 20-10 and were ranked ninth in California in the 2011 season.

Ahmed MathlouthiAhmed Mathlouthi – Tunisia, 200-meter freestyle – Santa Monica College

Santa Monica College freshman Ahmed Mathlouthi set three state records at the California Community College Athletic Association Swim and Dive State Championships at East Los Angeles College in April. His 500 yard freestyle time of 4:18.90 minutes not only shattered the state mark of 4:23.52 set in 2009 by Orange Coast College’s Riki Yano, but he broke the National Junior College Athletic Association record of 4.22.17 set in 2009 by Mateo De Angulo of Florida’s Indian River State College.

Mathlouthi will compete for Tunisia in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. He’s qualified for the 200 meter freestyle event.

On the second day of the three-day state championships, Mathlouthi broke the state’s 200 yard free record with a time of 1:35.29, eclipsing the mark of 1:37.08 set by Yano in 2009. The second-place finisher touched the wall nearly six seconds behind Mathlouthi.

On the final day Mathlouthi wowed with a 1,650 yard free time of 15:07.30 that destroyed Yano’s previous best by 11.15 seconds. Mathlouthi’s victory was a rout, defeating the next competitor by more than a minute. He actually lapped several competitors.

For his efforts at the state meet, Mathlouthi was selected as the California Community Colleges Sports Information Association Men’s Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 academic year.

According to the CCCSIA, Mathlouthi’s combined efforts at state will go down as one of the greatest single performances of any sport ever in California Community College athletic history. He finished as an All-American in seven different events, including three relays, and was the nation’s fastest community college swimmer this season in his three state record-setting events.

Mathlouthi won the gold medal in the 800-meter free at the 2011 All-Africa Games in Mozambique.

 Misty May-TreanorUSA, volleyball - Irvine Valley College

Misty May-Treanor is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and is the most successful female beach volleyball in history with 112 individual championship wins in domestic and international competition. She is a former Irvine Valley College women's assitant volleyball coach. May-Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings were the gold medalists in beach volleyball at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. They are considered the greatest beach volleyball team of all time. May-Treanor retired from competitive play after she and Walsh Jennings won gold for the third time in August at the London Games. They defeated the United States team of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross in the gold-medal match.

Kenneth MedwoodBelize, 400 hurdles - East Los Angeles College

Kenneth Medwood was his nation's flagbearer in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Medwood grew up in Los Angeles and attended East Los Angeles College where he began to excel in the hurdles. He was the California Community Colleges champion in the 400 meter hurdles in 2007 and 2008, establishing the state record in the 400 hurdles at 51.63. His next stop was Long Beach State University where he was runner up in the Big West Conference in both the 400 hurdles and long jump. He set his personal record in the 400 hurdles at the 2012 Mt. SAC Relays, running 49.54. He made the semi-finals at the London Olympics but finished 17th overall with a 49.87.

Cliff MeidlUSA, kayaking - El Camino College

Cliff Meidl is an El Camino College alumnus who competed in sprint kayaking in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He returned to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia competing in sprint kayaking and serving as the official Team USA flag bearer, as voted by the Team USA athletes. His inspiring story of courage and success was broadcast to nearly 2 billion viewers during the 2000 Olympics, detailing the 1986 construction accident that left him with a slight limp and unable to run. Working at a job site, Meidl had jack hammered into a buried power line that sent approximately 30,000 volts of electricity shooting through him. Determination and hard work prevailed and after three-and-a-half years of physical therapy and training, he was walking without crutches and soon competing against the world's best.

 Jamie NietoJamie Nieto - USA, High jump - Sacramento City College

Jamie Nieto began high-jumping in 1993, while attending Valley High School in Sacramento, Calif. As a junior, he discovered that he had a talent and had a lot of fun high jumping. Nieto went to Sacramento City College with the goal of getting a degree, clearing 7-feet and getting a scholarship. He accomplished all three things. He jumped 7 feet 0 ¼ (2.14m) and started to develop a hunger for the Olympics, he said. The 1995 US Outdoor National Championships came to Sacramento City College and Nieto was able to watch elite high jumpers for the very first time. He said he saw Charles Austin jump 7’5 ¼ (2.27m) to win the meet.

Nieto continued to prove that he is one of the nation’s best men’s high jumpers with his third-place finish at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, and by placing fourth a the USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque. Nieto had a strong season in 2008 highlighted by his runner-up finish at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. However, Nieto did not qualify for a spot on the Team USA roster for Beijing because he did not clear the Olympic "A" qualifying standard of 2.30m/7-6.50 during the designated time frame prior to, or during the Trials.

Nieto, who earned an associate's degree at Sacramanto City College and a bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University, equaled hiss best clearance in 2008 with a jump of 2.30m/7-6.50. It happened on July 12 following the Olympic Trials. It was his best performance since clearing that identical height in 2005. Nieto enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2003 with his win at the U.S. Outdoor Championships. He’s only gotten better, winning the 2004 Olympic Trials in his hometown of Sacrmaento, Calif. and taking fourth at the Olympic Games in Athens, with a personal best clearance of 2.34m/7-8.

Ranked among the top 10 U.S. jumpers since 1998, Nieto had never been ranked higher than fourth – or finished higher than fourth at the USA Outdoor Championships – before winning the 2003 national title, his first national crown on any level. In 2003, he equaled his then personal best of 2.30m/7-6.5 on three occasions – at the USA Championships, in Madrid and at Eberstadt, Germany. Also in 2003 Nieto posted six of the top eight clearances by an American that season.

Nieto is a three-time All-American and has moved to Chula Vista to live at the Olympic Training Center … Nieto is coached by Cliff Rovelto of Kansas State, and he also works with Joe Radan, whom he calls his “mentor” … earned an Associates of Arts degree, bachelors of Business Administration.Nieto’s budding acting career includes featured roles in the movies The Encounter and Jerusalem Countdown.

From www.usatf.org and www.jamienieto.com.

 Jonathan OhayonCanada, Archery - San Bernardino Valley College and Crafton Hills College

Jonathan Ohayon competed as the only archer for Canada’s Olympic team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. He was one of 128 archers from around the world – 64 men and 64 women. Although he does other sports, such as judo, soccer, and snowboarding, nothing compares to archery, he said.

"It seemed a very natural fit for me,” said Ohayon, a web designer who is currently taking glassblowing classes at San Bernardino Valley College and has taken art classes at Crafton Hills College.

Sarah RoblesSarah Robles – USA, Weightlifting – Mt. San Jacinto College

Sarah Robles proved she was the best female weightlifter in the United States by winning the U.S. Olympic Trials in Columbus, Ohio in March. The Mt. San Jacinto College alumna lifted a combined 258 kilos (567.6 lbs.) in the snatch and clean & jerk events to beat Holley Mangold by three kilos. Both earned their way onto the Team USA squad – the only females - and will compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Robles, 23, is the reigning four-time national champion for the 75+ kilos division and is also the current American University Women’s record holder for the clean and jerk, a record she set (321.75 lbs.) in 2011 while a student Mt. San Jacinto College.

Robles deals with Madelung’s deformity, a congenital deformity of the forearm. Lifting hurts, but the Olympian applies wrist wraps and gets her forearm massaged and stretched. She writes a blog (http://prettystrongblog.blogspot.com/) with the intent to debunk myths regarding women’s weightlifting. “What we wanted to accomplish with the blog was to make it more female-oriented because we feel that our sport is so male dominated,” Robles told NBCOlympics.com. “We feel that there are so many prejudices or stereotypes or misunderstandings about women and weightlifting and any form of strength training or strength and conditioning.

"Everyone's invited, but we wanted to help reach out to the women of different sports, different abilities, different everything and educate people about Olympic weightlifting, about strength and conditioning."

Robles has only been weightlifting competitively since 2007. She was a discus and shot putter in high school. In 2004, her San Jacinto High School coach got her into weightlifting as a part of her track and field. She quit throwing in 2008 and began weightlifting full-time with renowned weightlifting coach Joe Micela.

Jarred RomeUSA, discus - San Diego Mesa College

Jarred Rome is a throws coach at San Diego Mesa College and is the defending U.S. discus champion. He earned his second Olympic berth on June 28, 2012 with a throw of 207 feet, 10 inches. Rome did not qualify for the discus final round and finished 31st with a throw of 195 feet, 4 inches."Jarred Rome has already made his mark at Mesa," said San Diego Mesa College Athletics Director Dave Evans. "One of his students, Cassandra Kennison, placed first in the State in the women's shot put this past year."A native of Seattle, Wash., Rome lives and trains at the Chula Vista Training Center.

Jesse RuizJesse Ruiz – Mexico, Freestyle wrestling – Santa Ana College

Former Santa Ana College student-athlete Jesse Ruiz qualified as a member of the Mexican Olympic team and will compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, England. He will compete as a heavyweight in the freestyle division. The other wrestling division at the Summer Olympics is Greco-Roman.

The major difference between the two divisions is that holds below the waist are not allowed in Greco-Roman wrestling. Freestyle wrestling is more like collegiate wrestling, which Ruiz has excelled at his entire career.

Ruiz was a two-time All-American at Santa Ana College (2003, 2004) and finished second in the California Community College Athletic Association state finals both years.

Competing for Mexico, Ruiz qualified his country for the Olympics. Ruiz placed second in the division, placing behind Canada's Arjan Bhullar at the 2012 Pan American Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Florida last March. The top two finishers at each weight class qualified their countries for the 2012 Olympic Games. Ruiz is only one of two wrestlers to represent Mexico at the London Games.

Following his career at Santa Ana College, Ruiz, 26, transferred to Menlo College where he was a national association of Intercollegiate Athletics champion his junior year. He also was named All-American his junior and senior year.

Ruiz is now a volunteer assistant coach at The Citadel, a military college in Charleston, S.C.

Félix SánchezFelix Sanchez - Domincan Republic, 400 hurdles - San Diego Mesa College

Félix Sánchez is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the 400 meter hurdles event, where he is the reigning Olympic champion after winning gold Aug. 6 with a time of 47.63 - the same time he had in 2004 to win gold in Athens, Greece. He was also world champion in 2001 and 2003. He is nicknamed "Super Felix," "the Invincible," "Superman," and "the Dictator."

Sánchez was born in New York City to Dominican parents and was raised in San Diego, Calif. He attended University City High School and San Diego Mesa College.

"Mesa gave me the [academic and athletic] foundation I needed," Sanchez said after winning his first gold medal. "Mesa grounded me."

He later became a psychology major at the University of Southern California in 1998. He opted to represent the Dominican Republic internationally, and made his debut for that nation in 1999. He credits his grandmother, Lillian Morcelo, for giving him a strong sense of his Dominican roots. She died in 2008 at age 66 on the day of the opening rounds of the 400 hurdles in Beijing and Sanchez, who said he was "crushed" by her death could only finish fifth in his heat and did not qualify for the finals.

Competing for University of Southern California's USC Trojans, he was a Pac-10 champion (400 m hurdles) and All-American relay champion (1,600 m) in 1999. Between 2001 and 2004 he won 43 races in a row at 400 m hurdles, including the 2001 and 2003 World Championships. He won a share of the Golden League million dollar-jackpot in 2002 after winning all 7 races.

At the 2003 Pan American Games, Sánchez won the Dominican Republic's first gold medal at the competition and also broke the Pan American Games record in the 400 m hurdles. He was named Track and Field News Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 2003. Subsequently, he won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for the Dominican Republic in Athens.

During his 43-race winning streak, from 2001 to 2004, Sánchez was known for wearing a wristband while competing. The red flashing wristband, a souvenir from the 2000 Olympics, served as a motivation for him after failing to advance to the final in Sydney. After winning the Olympic gold medal in Athens 2004, Sánchez gave the wristband to the IAAF for auction and the profits were donated to charity. In his first race after the Olympics – and his first race without the wristband – at the Van Damme Memorial meet in Brussels, Sánchez injured his leg and had to abandon the race halfway through.

In 2012, Sanchez entered the London Olympics as a rank outsider after indifferent form. However, he posted the fastest qualifying time, and followed it by winning the final with a time of 47.63 seconds, the same as his winning time in Athens in 2004. Sanchez became the oldest man to win the Olympic 400m hurdles title, and the second consecutive 400m hurdles champion to have won their second title eight years after their first (Angelo Taylor having won in 2000 and 2008).

Hayes Edward "Big Ed" SandersHayes Edward "Big Ed" Sanders - 1952 Olympic heavyweight boxing gold - El Camino College Compton Center

Hayes Edward "Big Ed" Sanders (1930-1954) won the gold medal in heavyweight boxing at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. At the age of 22, he became the first African American Olympic heavyweight champion and returned to the United States as a national hero. His Olympic championship bout with Sweden's Ingemar Johansson became boxing lore when Johansson was disqualified by the referee during the second round for "failure to fight."

Sanders was born March 24, 1930, and grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. He attended Jordan High School in Los Angeles, and played on the football and basketball teams. After high school, he enrolled at the former Compton College, now the El Camino College Compton Center, during the 1949-1950 school year> He played football under then head coach Ken Carpenter and joined the newly formed boxing team. Within two years, he twice won the National Junior College Boxing Championship in the heavyweight division.

He attended Idaho State College, now Idaho State University, on a boxing/football scholarship after attracting the attention of the boxing coach Dubby Holt and football coach Babe Caccia. Sanders participated in track and field.

In 1951, Sanders enlisted in the Navy and was stationed at the Naval Training Center in San Diego. He continued his boxing career as a member of the U.S. Navy Boxing Team.

After winning the 1952 Golden Gloves tournament in San Diego by beating the defending champion, Sanders entered the Golden Gloves tournament in Los Angeles, and was described as "the finest heavyweight prospect to come down the pike since Joe Louis jumped from the Golden Gloves to world-wide fame." Sanders won again in Los Angeles, and continued on to Chicago for the national Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions.

Sanders also won the title in Chicago, as well as the Joe Louis Sportsmanship Trophy, and then went on a month-long tour of Europe with the other Golden Gloves weight class champions. On the European tour, he defeated the heavyweight champions of Ireland, Germany, France and Italy.

In June 1952, Sanders won a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and was named captain of the team that also included future world champion Floyd Patterson. In his first Olympic fight in Helsinki, Finland, Sanders won with a first-round knockout of Hans Jost of Switzerland. In his second fight, Sanders defeated Giacomo Di Segni of Italy with a third-round knockout. He reached the championship fight after knocking out Andries Nieman of South Africa in the second round. Sanders then defeated Sweden's Ingemar Johansson to win the Olympic gold medal in the heavyweight championship.

Sanders made his professional boxing debut on March 8, 1954, beating Sonny Nichols on a technical knockout in the first round at Boston Garden. He won his second professional fight by knocking out Billy Booker in the first round. He won his third fight by knocking out Henry Anderson in the second round. Sanders winning streak was finally stopped by Willie Wilson when he lost a five-round decision. Sanders then went on to beat Jack Flood, who was disqualified for refusing to answer the bell in the fourth round. Sanders later avenged his loss to Wilson by beating him in an eight-round decision. This was followed by a match up against Burt Whitehurst, which Sanders won in a 10-round draw. Later that same year, he won a unanimous 10-round decision in a rematch against Whitehurst.

In all, Sanders fought eight professional fights in less than eight months, with six wins, one loss and one draw, and three knockouts.

On Dec. 11, 1954, Sanders challenged Willie James for the New England heavyweight title in a 12-round fight at Boston Garden. At the time, James had a record of 17 wins (12 by knockout), six losses and one draw. Although James was the defending champion, Sanders was the favorite.

James appeared to be leading in the early rounds, landing a heavy barrage of punches, but Sanders rallied in the later rounds. Twenty-five seconds into the 11th round, James caught Sanders with a hard left hook, then a right cross to the head. Sanders fell on his right side, then rolled over onto his stomach, unconscious.

Sanders died at age 24 on Dec. 14, 1954, from a blood clot on the brain, which had resulted from the brutal knockout loss three days prior against Willie James. An autopsy revealed that Sanders had previously suffered two brain hemorrhages in his earlier fights with Whitehurst. Sanders complained of headaches after the fights, but his injuries went untreated.

In addition to his wife, Mary, and then 17-month-old son Russell, Sanders was survived by his parents; two brothers, Donald and Stan; and a sister, Margaret.

In May 2012, Hayes “Big Ed” Sanders, was inducted posthumously into the El Camino College Compton Center Tartar Athletic Hall of Fame.

Gary SatoUSA, men's volleyball - Santa Monica College

Gary Sato attended Santa Monica College from 1973 to 1977 before becoming an All-American outside hitter at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Sato was the assistant coach for the 1988 Olympic Gold medal team in Seoul and in 1992 he coached the Olympic team that won bronze. A distinguished coach, he was the assistant of the 1986 World Championship team and the 1987 Pan American Games. He then served as the head coach for the gold-medal win at the 1985 FIVB world cup in Japan and was voted most valuable coach of the tournament.

Liane SatoUSA, volleyball - Santa Monica College

Liane attended Santa Monica College in 2002, but played collegiate volleyball at San Diego State University. She played professional beach volleyball before joining the 1988 and 1992 USA Olympic Women’s Teams. She was an Olympic bronze medalist at the 1992 games after winning a bronze in the 1990 World Championships.

George StanichUSA, high jump - Sacramento City & El Camino colleges

Voted as the greatest all-around athlete in Sacramento City College history, George Stanich won a bronze medal in the high jump in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London. At Sacramento City he lettered in baseball, basketball, and track and field during the 1946-47 school year. He was the leading scorer for the basketball team, the top pitcher on the baseball team and the top high jumper in the state, while also competing in the hurdles. Stanich became the first of John Wooden's all-Americans at UCLA and later a professional baseball pitcher in the Pacific Coast League for the Oakland Oaks. Stanich was a successful basketball coach and physical education teacher at El Camino College.

Edino SteeleEdino Steele - Jamaica, 4x400m relay - Pasadena City College

Edino Steele was the Pasadena City College 2006-07 athlete of the year and will compete for Jamaica in the 4x400 relay. Steele, 25, won four state titles for Pasadena City College.

In 2007, Steele won four titles at the California Community College state track and field championships. That's still a school record. He was named athlete of the meet with wins in the 200 and 400 meters and helped Pasadena City College capture 4x100 and 4 x400 relay titles. He still holds the school record in the 200 of 20.37 seconds. He also posted state bests in the 200 and 400 during both his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Steele’s 400 time of 45.77 at the 2007 state meet was his personal best until he topped that mark with a 45.38 in June at the Jamaican Olympic team trials.

Brenda VillaBrenda Villa - USA, water polo - Cerritos College women's assistant water polo coach

Brenda Villa became assistant coach of the women's water polo team at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. in 2005. The Falcons ended the season with a 21-11 record, a new school record for most wins in a season. Villa helped Team USA take the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics with an 8-5 victory over Spain. Villa scored a goal in the third period to put Team USA up 7-2. It was the first gold medal for the United States women's water polo team following a silver in 2008 in Beijing, China.

Villa recalls one of her favorite water polo moments as defeating Hungary to qualify for the first-ever Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games. A four-time girls 1st Team All-American in high school, Villa has played professionally in Italy for parts of seasons since 2008. Although she is the shortest player on Team USA, she is one of the worlds' most prolific goal scorers. In 2010, she became the girl's water polo head coach at Castilleja High School in Palo Alto, Calif. Villa's parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico and she speaks fluent Spanish. A three-time All-American at Stanford, Villa graduated in 2003 with a degree in political science.

Olympic Experience:

  • 2000 Olympic Games, silver medal
  • 2004 Olympic Games, bronze medal
  • 2008 Olympic Games, silver medal
  • 2012 Olympic Games, gold medal

Career Highlights:

  • Captain of the silver medal Winning squad at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China
  • Is most decorated athlete in the world of women’s water polo
  • Fired in eight goals for Team USA at the 2012 FINA World League Super Final
  • Scored six goals to help Team USA to a gold medal and Olympic berth at the 2011 Pan American Games
  • Tied for team lead with seven goals during gold medal run at 2011 FINA World League Super Final in Tianjin, China. Named to All-Tournament team

From www.teamusa.org and www.wikipedia.org