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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Athletes To Watch In London — From Tyson Gay To Ann Romney’s Horse

World champion Yohan Blake, left, celebrates after crossing the finish line ahead of current world-record holder Usain Bolt, second from right, Nesta Carter, right, and Michael Frater to win the 100m final at Jamaica’s Olympic trials in Kingston, Jamaica. (AP)

The London Olympics begin next week, and The Boston Globe’s Shira Springer tells us which athletes she’ll keep an eye on.

1.) Yohan Blake — Track and Field  (100m and 200m)

He is star Usain Bolt’s training partner and fellow country man — both are Jamaican. But Britain’s Guardian newspaper refers to him as “The Beast who could beat Usain Bolt.”

Country: Jamaica

Born: Dec 26, 1989 (age 22) in St. James, Jamaica

How he got into running: As a boy, his favorite sport was cricket. But when the principal at his Jamaican high school watched Blake play, he saw the makings of a sprinter instead. The principal sent him to a another school renowned for strong athletics, and that’s where he met the man who would become his earliest coach, Danny Hawthorne. Even today, he still plays cricket.

Coach: Glenn Mills

Nickname: The Beast

Personal bests: 9.75 seconds in 100m (4th best in history), 19.26 seconds in 200m (2nd best in history)

Recent highlights: Blake beat Usain Bolt at Jamaica’s Olympic trials in 2012. He is the reigning world champion at 100m after beating Usain last year in Daegu, South Korea.

Tyson Gay of USA wins the 100m men’s race at the IAF Diamond League athletics meeting at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, 2012. (AP)

2.) Tyson Gay — Track and Field (100m and 200m)

Country: U.S.

Born: Aug 9, 1982 (age 29) in Lexington, Kentucky

How he got into running: His grandmother and mother used to run and his older sister Tiffany was a sprinter. His mother encouraged them to race and he was competitive with his sister.

Personal bests: 9.69 seconds in 100m (American record and 2nd best in history), 19.58 seconds in 200m (5th best in history)

Coach: Lance Brauman

Nickname: Mr. Top End Speed

Personal bests: 9.69 seconds in 100m (American record and 2nd best in history), 19.58 seconds in 200m (5th best in history)

Recent highlights: He won the 100m at the London Grand Prix and the 100m at the Diamond League Areva meet this month.

3.) Evelyn Stevens — Cyclist

Cyclist Evelyn Stevens.

Country: U.S.

Born: May 9, 1983 (age 29) in Claremont, California

How she got into cycling: She was an investment banking analyst (and worked at Lehman Brothers at one point). But in November, 2007, her sister signed her up for a cyclocross race, which is a cross between mountain biking and road cycling, and she fell in love with the sport, bought a bike, and started competing at the amateur level. She eventually left everything else behind to cycle.

Coach: Neal Henderson

Career highlight: Winning La Fleche Wallonne April, 2012

Recent highlights: 1st overall Exergy Tour, 3rd overall at Giro Donne

4.) Holley Mangold (weightlifter)

Country: U.S.

Weightlifter Holley Mangold poses for a portrait at the Team USA Media Summit in Dallas. (AP)

Born:Dec 22, 1989 (age 22) in Dayton, Ohio

How she got into weightlifting: Mangold used to play football on her Archbishop Alter High School boy’s football team but she would always out-lift her football teammates in the weight room. She realized her skill and started training for weightlifting in 2008.

Nickname: Before she started weightlifting she was known as”The Other Mangold,” because her brother is Nick Mangold, center for the New York Jets

Coaches: Mark Cannella and Dan Bell

Career highlights: She was not expected to make the Olympic team until 2016, but in the 2012 Olympic Trials she placed 2nd in an event called the snatch, lifting 110 kg, and she won the “clean-and-jerk,” lifting 145 kg.

5.) Rafalca — The horse that belongs to Ann Romney.

Ann Romney’s dressage horse Rafalca.

Rafalca will compete in dressage
Born:April 1997 (age 15) in Germany

Owner: Ann Romney and her dressage trainer, Jan Ebeling

Rider: Ebeling

Nickname: A possible future nickname, given by announcer Brian O’Connor at the Rancho Valencia Dressage Affaire is: “First Horse”

Recent highlights: Rafalca came in 3rd at the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Dressage Championships in Gladstone, New Jersey in June, 2012.


  • Shira Springer, Boston Globe Sports Reporter

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