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Year in review: Big year for SCV Olympians

Posted: December 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

United States' Alysia Johnson Montano competes in a women's 800-meter heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the Summer Olympics, London, on Aug. 8.

 

The Santa Clarita Valley has been known as a breeding ground for athletic talent.

Many of its great athletes have been on display at stadiums and arenas across the country.

But in August 2012, an international audience got to see the SCV’s bright talent on the grandest stage — the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The SCV had four athletes who grew up in the area in the games (sprinter Allyson Felix, runner Alysia Montano, swimmer Anthony Ervin and volleyball player David Smith) and another two who train locally (shooter Kim Rhode and hurdler Lashinda Demus).

The light shone brightest on Felix, who already had a lengthy resume coming into London.

Felix, who grew up and still lives in the Santa Clarita Valley, won silver medals in the 200 meters in the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2008 Beijing games. She also won gold in the 4x400 meter relay in Beijing.

At 26 years old, Felix came into the games with a lot of pressure on her to finally win a 200-meter gold.

She didn’t disappoint.

Felix finished the race in 21.88 seconds to win her first individual gold.

On top of that, the international superstar added two more golds by running legs of the 4x400-meter and 4x100-meter races.

Ervin was a unique story, despite not medaling.

The Hart High graduate won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 50-meter freestyle, as well as a silver in the 4x100-meter race.

Shortly after, Ervin disappeared.

He retired from competition because he said at age 22 he became disillusioned with the sport.

After a decade, he began competing again and was close to his former self, making it all the way back to the Olympics.

Ervin, now 31, qualified for the 50-meter final and finished a respectable fifth.

Smith, 27, was another unique story.

The Saugus High graduate was born with severe hearing loss in both ears and has worn hearing aids his entire life.

That never stopped him from becoming one of the best volleyball players in the country.

Smith competed in a reserve role for Team USA men’s volleyball, but the squad had a disappointing run and did not advance to the medal round.

Montano, 26, had her own share of adversity coming into the games.

The Canyon High graduate suffered a stress fracture that kept her out of the 2008 games.

Her spirit and fire led her to the 2012 Olympics, and she finished fifth in the 800-meter race.

Rhode, who trains at Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall, further cemented her legacy as the most successful shooter in Olympics history.

The 33-year-old won a gold in skeet shooting. It was her third gold medal and fifth Olympic medal overall.

She has medaled in five-straight Olympics.

Demus, 29, who has been an assistant track coach at College of the Canyons, won her first Olympic medal with a silver in the 400-meter hurdles.

She previously competed in the 2004 games.

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