August 15, 2016
Sports Insider Weekly
What has been a triumphant Olympic games for the United States – who leads all nations in both gold (26) and overall (70), has been especially exciting for Maryland. While it’s not the biggest or most populated state, 11 of those golden medallions belong to athletes who hail from the country’s 19th-most populous state.
In fact, if Maryland were a country, they would rank fourth in gold medals. Great Britain currently has 15 gold medals, with China coming in a close third with 14.
Two of the biggest names of the Rio games are Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, both of whom were born and raised in the D.C. area. Phelps is a Baltimore native who is known for his hometown pride and fandom of both the Orioles and Ravens, while Ledecky was born in D.C. but lives and trains in nearby Bethesda, MD.
“Crab cakes and gold medals – that’s what #Maryland does!” Governor Larry Hogan tweeted on August 10th. He’s not the only public figure to take to Twitter to recognize and congratulate the Maryland athletes. Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been actively congratulating multiple Team USA athletes, with special shout outs to Phelps and Ledecky.
While athletes sometimes fail to live up to the hype, both Phelps and Ledecky have risen to the occasion, combining for a total of 11 medals–9 of them gold. At 31, and appearing in his fifth (and self-proclaimed final) Olympic games, Phelps is going home with six new medals–five gold and one silver. Ledecky added five new medals, four of them gold.
Though Phelps and Ledecky may be the most recognized names, they are just two of 24 athletes competing in Rio that have ties to the area.
21-year old swimmer Jack Cogner, who was part of the gold-winning men’s relay team, is from Rockville, MD. Basketball stars and Team USA basketball teammates Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant are from Towson and D.C. respectively.
Durant, the nearly 7 foot tall basketball wonder, with “Maryland” tattooed against his back, swelled with pride when discussing his local
“Phelps is from closer to Baltimore, closer to ‘Melo, but we’re all from the same state–and we’re over in Rio,” he said. “You’re from Maryland, a small state, and we’ve got to stick together, man. Seeing Katie and just knowing that she comes from the same area I come from. I can drive to where she’s from in 30 minutes (from his hometown) — just to see that is unreal. I’ve always been proud to be from Maryland, but it just took it to another level when I saw those two win gold medals.”
Durant and Anthony have a chance to pick up a gold medal themselves, as the Team USA basketball team is currently unbeaten (5-0) heading into the quarterfinals. Several more athletes with local ties, competing across 14 sports, have yet to make their mark and add to the medal count in Rio. If what Maryland athletes have done so far is any indication, the future is golden.