- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
For two weeks, the world was focused on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Locally, athletes and coaches watched the memorable moments of the Games of the XXX Olympiad as the United States took home the most medals of any country with 104, 46 of them gold.
They include Leonardtown head swim coach Chuck Jacobs, who was thrilled to watch personal friends Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swim to gold medal status.
“When talent meets heart, you have success and we have the potential here in the SMAC conference, but you can’t measure their heart,” Jacobs said. “Katie Ledecky of Bethesda will one day smash the world record [in the 800-meter freestyle] when she continues to swim smart.”
Ledecky won gold in the event by more than four seconds in her Olympic debut at age 15.
“Locally, we have some kids that have the potential. Putting things into perspective it’s a matter of what program they’re in and if they’re being pushed,” Jacobs said. “We had kids that have gone to Olympics trials, but that’s where they peek. Some swimmers plan six months to a year in advance. I remember Danny Watters [American University] who went to elementary and middle school here locally; he qualified for the 1988 team at age 17.”
Watters finished five out of 61 placements.
Jacobs made note to the fact that the United States has the trial system set up to set the best of the best apart. Japan does not have a trial system. Australia does however and some Japanese athletes will compete in the Australian trials to focus on that extra edge. Jacobs said he could talk all day about the sport of swimming but he was also disappointed that baseball and softball didn’t make the cut.
“I’m disappointed that they didn’t have softball, we’re sending a bad message to athletes,” Jacobs said. “It doesn’t inspire a group of kids that are playing one of the top three sports in the nation.”
Kris Ohler, a player for Southern in the St. Mary’s County Women’s League, was also disappointed that the 2012 London games didn’t host softball and baseball this year.
“It’s a shame. I remember when the U.S. softball team came through four years ago and we supported them and saw them at Regency Furniture Stadium,” Ohler said. “It doesn’t give the high school and local teams hope for something to strive for.”
Kiley Beall, a swimmer for Tritons in the Southern Maryland Swim League who broke the league’s 15- to 18-year-old 50 backstroke record twice this season, voiced her thoughts regarding the Olympics. Beall’s record stands at 32.04 seconds from her July 24 competition.
“The event I most looked forward to was the 100 back, not only because it’s my favorite, but because of the girls swimming it,” Beall said. “I love watching Missy Franklin swim. She’s my inspiration because of how successful and young she is. She also manages to stay true to who she is. I was also watching out for the second member of the U.S. team Rachel Bootsma. I got to meet her at the NCSA Jr. National [National Club Swimming Association] meet in [Orlando,] Florida, so I was really rooting for her to do well. I was impressed with how well she performed for her first olympics.”
The Jones family of Waldorf said the television set was on constantly and they also enjoyed huddling around laptops to catch live reports. Jay Jones, father of Pat and Chris Jones of North Point High School, said one of his favorite moments was listening to the commentators comment on the youth of Ledecky.
“They said she went out too fast in the women's 800-meter freestyle, only to watch her shock everyone by holding the lead throughout the entire race, winning the gold medal and almost breaking the world record.” Jay Jones said, “and there’s always inspirational stories. It’s not always about who wins, it’s about sportsmanship, it’s about having to suck it up and be gracious when things don’t go as you trained for.”
Pat and Chris Jones, cross country participants at North Point, were on a camping trip during the Olympics. Chris Jones said he will never forget taking the time out to go watch the women’s 10,000-meter race on a laptop in the parking lot of a Starbucks with free WiFi with members of his cross country team.
“It’s an experience that we won’t forget,” Chris Jones said. “It was really exciting to watch Matt Centrowitz [from the U.S.] race in the 1,500. He ran for Broadneck High School just a few years ago on some of the same courses that we run on. It keeps all of our Olympic dreams alive.”
Pat Jones said he watched everything from basketball to water polo. He said he enjoyed watching Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee win gold and silver in the men’s decathlon.
“We thought it was cool to see athletes going to watch other athletes in different sports like the U.S. basketball guys watching swimming events,” Pat Jones said.
Pat Jones said he’s now more motivated for the cross country season.
“I feel like this is our Olympics,” Pat Jones said. “Just like Team USA, most of us have trained three or four years for this shot at the state championships and watching the Olympics before my senior year is very motivating.”