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11 area athletes dominate at the Olympics in London

8:16 AM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Ryan Lochte is one of the most talked about Olympic athletes with local ties, but there are ten other area Olympians that deserve their time in the spotlight. It seems athletes from our surrounding areas are dominating two Olympic sports: Swimming and Track & Field.

Despite the rain, Metro Diner in Jacksonville Beach was packed Sunday morning. One of the topics of conversation? Lochte Nation.

"I was really excited about Lochte," Gator fan Andrew Howard said. "We saw him at a football game and it was just really exciting to see him doing so well and get some golds."

Originally from Daytona, Lochte graduated from UF and lives in Gainesville. He won 2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze medal in London. Though he still couldn't edge out Michael Phelps, who now boasts the title of most decorated Olympian in history.

"Phelps still proves he's the best but Lochte held his own, he got 2 gold, good for him," Olympics watcher Ed Descallar said.

But it's not just Lochte and Phelps leaving the pool champions. Some other swimmers with connections to our area are touting big wins of their own, like Allison Schmitt, who attends the University of Georgia. She's one of only 11 women to win at least five swimming medals in a single Olympics, with 3 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze. Or how about Dana Vollmer - a UF graduate. She's also taking home 3 golds.

"I think all of the Florida people are doing great," Ed Descallar said.

UF alumni Conor Dwyer, and current UGA student Shannon Vreeland, both won gold in swimming. UF student Elizabeth Beisel has a silver and bronze under her belt. Adding to the list Peter Vanderkaay, who lives and trains in Gainesville, and Amanda Weir, a UGA alumni - who both took bronze.

"Living in Florida the last 12 years, you know, I feel like I know them and I'm so proud to see that," Lottie Descallar, who's been following the games, said.

Area athletes are also making huge strides in Track & Field. Will Claye, a UF alum, and former UGA student Reese Hoffa are both taking home bronze so far.

And everyone's talking about Sanya Richards-Ross, a favorite for the women's 400-meters. She gave a special shout out to her husband, Jaguar Aaron Ross.

"It means the world to me for Ross to be here," Ross said. "For the Jaguars to allow him to come and experience this with me, it's really priceless."

Local Jaguars fans appreciated the mention.

"It was fun to see her say the Jaguars on national TV and to the world - so that was cool to see," Andrew Howard said. Lottie Descallar added, "she's one of us now."

She's also a proud member of Team USA.

"I saw that we're winning the medal count so you've got to be happy with that," Howard said. "I'm very proud of the USA. Best country in the world," Ed Descallar said.


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