Long Beach Athletes Win Olympic Medals With More to Come


Between gymnastics, swimming, rowing and cycling, athletes from Long Beach have already won six Olympic medals—and  many sports have not even completed competition.

Swimmer Jessica Hardy was the first local to win a medal in these Games, earning a bronze medal in the first Olympic race of her career, the 400-meter freestyle relay, last week. She subsequently has also won a gold medal in the 400-meter medley relay. Hardy also qualified for other events, but did not earn medals.

Long Beach gymnast McKayla Maroney has won a gold medal as part of the American gymnastics team all-around and after a devastating slip during the vault final—in which she was favorited to win—she pulled in a silver medal. A photo of Maroney looking unimpressed on the podium accepting her silver medal has since gone viral, creating what is undoubtedly the first meme of the London Games.

Rower Esther Lofgren also won a gold medal as part of the US Women’s eight-person rowing team, representing Long Beach’s rich history with the sport.

After competing in three Olympic Games, local cyclist Jennie Reed finally won a medal in the women’s pursuit race, however was not invited to the podium in the center of the velodrome. Because the teams each have four members and only three are used at any given time, Reed was barred from accepting her silver medal on stage because she was not present in the final, deciding race. She still received a medal, however, for her efforts in earlier rounds that led the team to their win.

Still to come on the Long Beach front, however, are potential medal-winners in water polo, volleyball and basketball.  

Wednesday at 1PM local time, Long Beach’s Misty May-Treanor and her teammate Kerry Walsh Jennings will play for an unprecedented third gold medal in beach volleyball against April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, also of Team USA. If May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings win, it will be the first time a team has dominated the sport over three Olympic Games. The game will air tonight sometime during NBC 4’s primetime coverage.

Also today, airing with a two-hour delay at 2PM on NBC, the USA Men’s water polo team will play Croatia—one of the best teams in the world; they have yet to lose a game this Games—in the quarterfinals. The USA team includes several prominant members of the Long Beach water polo community including Tony Azevedo, Ryan Bailey and Chay Lapin.

Tomorrow, the USA Women’s water polo team will play for their first gold medal against the winner of today’s Hungary/Spain semifinal. Though the team—which features several Long Beach players and coaches—has made it to this gold-medal game three times before, they have yet to win the top prize. 

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.