Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Last Word On The Olympics: North Carolina Kicks Iran’s Butt 19-14

By Laura Keeley/Raleigh News & Observer

If North Carolina were a country, it would have finished 13th in the medal standings.
The 19 total medals won in London by athletes with strong ties to the Tar Heel state would rank right behind Ukraine (20) and just ahead of Canada (18).

What’s more, the state’s haul of 10 gold medals would rank eighth in the world.
Individually, N.C. State’s Cullen Jones led the way with three medals – one gold, two silver – and fellow swimmers Ricky Berens and Nick Thoman came back with a pair apiece.

Naturally, all that hardware led to a bit of extra attention.

“Going through security took 20 minutes B/c they pulled all the medals out. #WiErD!!!” Jones tweeted. “Good thing I have extra time so i don’t miss my flight”

And now that the flame has officially been extinguished on the games of the XXX Olympiad have officially ended, there’s time to revisit some of the state’s most memorable performances:
N.C. STATE'S CULLEN JONES (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
• Ricky Berens, swimming (Mens 4x200 freestyle relay)
• Charlie Houchin, swimming (Mens 4x200 freestyle relay)
• Davis Tarwater, swimming (Mens 4x200 freestyle relay)
• Cullen Jones, swimming (Mens 4x100 medley relay)
• Nick Thoman, swimming (Mens 4x100 medley relay)
• Lauren Perdue, swimming (Womens 4x200 freestyle relay)
• Tobin Heath, soccer
• Heather O’Reilly, soccer
• Caroline Lind, Rowing – Womens eight
• Chris Paul, basketball

With Team USA’s 107-100 victory over Spain, Chris Paul joined Michael Jordan as the state’s only men’s basketball players to win two gold medals. Paul also became the first Demon Deacon to win multiple medals.

As far as the Triangle schools go, N.C. State and UNC led the way, thanks to Jones’s three medals, including his gold in the 4x100 medley relay.

The Tar Heels have long buoyed the women’s soccer national team, and this year’s version featured two UNC alumni (a third, Meghan Klingenberg, was also in London as an alternate). Tobin Heath started in the semifinal and final matchers Heather O’Reilly became the first Tar Heel soccer player to win three Olympic golds.

• Rickey Berens, swimming (Mens 4x100 freestyle relay)
• Cullen Jones, swimming (Mens 4x100 freestyle relay)
• Cullen Jones, swimming (Mens 50 freestyle)
• Nick Thoman, swimming (Mens 100 meter backstroke)
• Megan Hodge, volleyball
• Abby Johnston, diving (synchronized three-meter diving)
• Manteo Mitchell, track (Mens 4x400 meter relay)

Mitchell finishing his part of the perliminary Mens 4x400 meter relay despite breaking his left leg in the middle of the race was named one of the top 10 moments of the London Olympics by the Associated Press. The Western Carolina alum who currently works at the school as a graduate assistant collected a silver medal when the U.S. was upset by the Bahamas, who broke the U.S.’s winning streak in that event dating back to 1984.

Johnston’s silver, meanwhile, was the first diving medal for the U.S. in 12 years and first ever in a synchronized event.

“It’s been a dry spell,” Johnston said of the diving team’s medal drought. “It wasn’t spoken, but there was a lot of, ‘we need to get a medal at this game.’ To be able to stand up there on the first day and do that was really special.”

• Nick McCrory, diving (synchronized 10-meter platform diving)
• Robyn Gayle, soccer (Canada)

Like Johnston, McCrory took a year off from Duke to train for the games. And one day after Johnson made U.S. diving history, McCrory added a bronze medal to the team’s haul.

“It was incredible, McCrory said of his moment on the podium. “It didn’t hit me for a couple of days. But just being up there and seeing the flag raised and everything, it was an amazing experience, one I’ll certainly never forget.”

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