Vying for a golden state
If Southern California were an independent country, it would stand near the top of the Olympic medal rankings for the Beijing Games.
Athletes from this area, or those who train here, will return with plenty of hardware. Here’s a sport-by-sport look at local athletes who have good chances to win a medal:
Khatuna Lorig -- She’s competing in her fourth Olympics, for her third country -- the former Soviet Union (unified team) in 1992, then the former Soviet state Georgia, and now as an L.A. resident.
(swimming, diving, synchro, water polo)
Amanda Beard -- Owns seven medals (two gold, four silver, one bronze) from three Olympics. Eighth is a longshot, but so was making the team.
Larsen Jensen -- USC alum qualified for the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle races. Set an American record in the 400 at the trials, 3:43.53. Silver medalist at Athens in the 400.
Jason Lezak -- Has two gold medals, one silver and one bronze from last two Olympics. Will swim the 100 free and 400-meter freestyle relay.
Aaron Peirsol -- Irvine native will swim the 100 and 200 backstroke.
Troy Dumais -- This will be the third Olympics for the Ventura native, who trains in Texas. He hasn’t finished higher than sixth, and he will have to be perfect to dent Chinese divers’ dominance.
Tony Azevedo -- If the men’s water polo team wins a medal, it will be because of this 26-year-old Stanford graduate from Long Beach. This three-time Olympian is a gifted scorer who ranked second in goals at Athens, with 15.
Heather Petri -- Long Beach resident is one of two three-time U.S. water polo Olympians on the women’s team. An attacker, she played two professional seasons in Florence, Italy.
Brenda Villa -- Commerce native, 28, is captain of the women’s water polo team and the squad’s other three-time female Olympian. Played on boys’ team at Bell Gardens High before leading Stanford to an NCAA title.
(what the rest of the world calls track and field)
Bryan Clay -- In good shape to repeat as Olympic decathlon champion. Glendora resident set a U.S. Olympic trials record of 8,832 points, best in the world this season.
Shawn Crawford -- He led a U.S. sweep of the 200 in Athens but subsequently struggled with injuries. Now coached by Bobby Kersee in Los Angeles.
Torri Edwards -- USC alumna missed Athens Games because of a drug ban but is a medal contender at 31. Second at U.S. trials in the 100; scratched from the 200. Candidate for 400-meter relay.
Allyson Felix -- USC graduate and Los Angeles native won the 200 at the Olympic trials after missing a berth in the 100. Also expected to run a leg of the 400-meter relay.
Ryan Hall -- U.S. trials marathon champion. Grew up in Big Bear Lake, now lives in Bay Area. His 2:06.17 at the London Marathon this year was the second-fastest ever by an American man.
Monique Henderson -- NCAA champion for UCLA in the 400 and Athens gold medalist in the 1,600-meter relay, she’s in the relay pool again. U.S. and Jamaica figure to vie for gold.
Deena Kastor -- Athens bronze medalist in the marathon, she managed a late surge to win the marathon trials race. Agoura High graduate lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes.
Angela Williams -- Four-time NCAA champion in the 100 at USC. Second successive Olympics she was chosen for the 400-meter relay pool. Should be great competition between U.S. and Jamaican sprinters.
Howard Bach and Khan “Bob” Malaythong of Orange will team in men’s doubles. Bach became the first U.S. athlete to win a medal at the world championships when he won men’s doubles in 2005.
Matthew Brown -- Angels infield prospect, but can he still be called that when he will be 26 the day of the Beijing opening ceremony?
Trevor Cahill -- Oceanside native was drafted by Oakland in the second round of the 2006 draft. He was the organizational pitcher of the year last season with Class-A Kane County.
Mike Hessman -- Right-hander has spent most of the last four seasons with triple-A Toledo.
Kevin Jepsen -- Anaheim native has bounced around the minor leagues since 2003. He’s a right-hander.
Brandon Knight -- From Oxnard and Ventura Junior College. Oldest player at 32. Has started and relieved.
Mike Koplove -- Right-handed pitcher from Philadelphia was with Cleveland before he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers last December.
Jeff Stevens -- Former Loyola Marymount pitcher was drafted by Cincinnati in 2005 and traded to Cleveland the following year.
Stephen Strasburg -- Youngest member of the team at 20. San Diego native pitches for San Diego State.
Terry Tiffee -- The Dodgers are the third organization for this 29-year-old infielder.
Kobe Bryant -- Lakers guard will make his Olympic debut at Beijing. He will turn 30 the day before the men’s gold-medal game, in which the U.S. should be playing.
Lisa Leslie -- Going for her fourth gold medal and, she says, her last. Morningside High and USC graduate returned to the Sparks this season after giving birth to a daughter.
DeLisha Milton-Jones -- Third selection for the Sparks forward, though she missed the Athens Games because of an injury. Won gold at Sydney in 2000.
Candace Parker -- Has dunked twice as a rookie with the Sparks. She’s one of the leaders in the next generation that will take the torch from Leslie.
Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers -- The top-ranked duo in the FIVB rankings, they live in Santa Barbara and Solvang, respectively. They’re a gold-medal threat, though the Brazilian duos behind them will be tough competition.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh -- May-Treanor is a Costa Mesa native. Walsh lives in Hermosa Beach. They’re the defending gold medalists, top-ranked in the world, and likely to be on the podium again.
Carrie Johnson -- San Diego native, 24, lives at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Will compete in the women’s 500-meter flatwater sprint. Johnson, 24, was 10th at Athens, one place too low to make the finals.
Mike Day -- Won the BMX trials at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Lives in Santa Clarita but spent the lead-up to the trials at the training center. This will be the Olympic debut of BMX.
Sarah Hammer -- Temecula native is a two-time world champion in the 3,000-meter pursuit and defending world silver medalist. Expected to make the podium.
Amber Neben -- First-time Olympian was a discretionary pick for the mass-start road race. She’s a graduate of Orange Lutheran High and got her master’s at UC Irvine. Longshot but not impossible.
Ronda Rousey -- Finished ninth at Athens while only 17. She won a world junior title in 2004 and a silver medal at the senior level in 2007. A Santa Monica native, she now trains in Wakefield, Mass.
Andrew Campbell -- San Diego resident will compete in the laser class. He’s a three-time U.S. Olympic Committee honoree as sportsman of the year in sailing. He won the Olympic trials and gold at the Pan Am Games.
Amy Rodriguez -- This A-Rod, unlike the Yankee of the same name, comes through in postseason play. A potent striker, the Lake Forest native led USC to the NCAA title in December.
Shannon Boxx -- This will be the second Olympics for this midfielder from Redondo Beach. Started all six games in the Athens tournament. Able to control the pace and play any style.
Lauren Cheney -- A junior-to-be at UCLA, she was named to the squad after Abby Wambach suffered a broken leg in the final pre-Olympic match. Cheney has 12 international caps. She scored 42 goals in 44 games in her first two seasons at UCLA.
Jeffrey Holguin -- Yorba Linda resident was second in men’s double trap at the Olympic trials.
Kim Rhode -- She won three Olympic medals in women’s double trap (gold in 1996, at 17, gold in 2004 and bronze in 2000). After her event was eliminated, she focused on skeet shooting. El Monte resident then won the Olympic trials.
More than half the players have ties to Southern California. Here are two of the most decorated.
Laura Berg -- An outfielder and the only three-time Olympic gold medalist on the roster. Berg, of Santa Fe Springs, has played on four world champion U.S. teams, too.
Stacey Nuveman -- A clutch hitter, the La Verne native and 2002 UCLA graduate had the only U.S. hit in the 2000 gold-medal game and a home run in the 2004 gold- medal game. Nuveman, a catcher, missed the 2007 season because of the birth of her son, Chase Gregory Deniz.
Charlotte Craig -- She’s spending the summer between her junior and senior years at Murrieta Valley High preparing for the Olympics. Craig, 17, won a bronze medal at the world championships last year and won gold in the junior flyweight division in 2006. The only U.S. team member not part of the Lopez family (Steven, Mark, Diana and Coach Jean).
Bob and Mike Bryan -- Identical twins, who graduated from Rio Mesa High in Oxnard, team to form the top-ranked doubles team in the world. They lost in the quarterfinals at Athens in 2004.
Serena and Venus Williams -- The Compton-born sisters will each compete in singles and will team up in doubles. It will be the second Olympic appearance for Serena and third for Venus. They won doubles gold in 2000. Venus won gold in singles at Sydney too.
Julie Swail Ertel -- The versatile Placentia athlete is hoping to win her second Olympic medal; she won silver in water polo in 2000.
The men’s team is ranked third in the world. Many have Southern California connections. Here are the most notable:
Gabe Gardner -- From San Clemente. He’s an opposite. He will compete in his second Olympics.
Kevin Hansen -- Stanford graduate from Newport Beach who joined the national team as a setter in 2005. He’s a Type 1 diabetic, according to his USA Volleyball biography.
Rich Lambourne -- A first-time Olympian, he has played extensively in Europe. He’s a libero and lists Tustin as his hometown.
Ryan Miller -- This 6-foot-8 middle blocker from Palmdale will compete in his third Olympics.
The women’s team is ranked fourth in the world.
Heather Bown -- Middle blocker from Yorba Linda will play in her third Olympics.
Nicole Davis -- Played on consecutive NCAA championship teams at USC. Davis, 26, is a libero and a first-time Olympian.
Tayyiba Haneef-Park -- Second Olympic selection. From Laguna Hills and played at Long Beach State.
Danielle Scott-Arruda -- Middle blocker played at Long Beach State. This will be her fourth Olympics, tying a USA Volleyball record set by Tara Cross-Battle.