Olympic fever is running high with the 2012 Summer Games kicking off with the opening ceremony in London–and local residents are gearing up for Bay Area gold at the dozens of sporting events.
Many athletes from the Bay Area will be representing Team USA, and others born abroad and living here will represent their home country.
The University of California at Berkeley, known for its Cal Golden Bears, has sent 45 Bears to the Summer Games.
Athletic officials tallied 38 Berkeley athletes, five coaches, one chief medical officer and one event manager in London for the 19 days of competition, making the East Bay campus the most represented American public university at the games.
Nineteen of those athletes will be in the water, such as Olympian swimmer Natalie Coughlin, and water polo Olympic medalist Heather Petri.
Other sports the Bears will represent include basketball, rowing, soccer and track and field.
From the Peninsula, 27 Stanford students and alumni are in London this summer taking on competitors in sports ranging from gymnastics, synchronized swimming, diving, rowing and more.
Walnut Creek synchronized swimmer Mariya Koroleva, a Stanford communication major, will compete this year with her partner Mary Killman in a duet, despite the larger national team’s miss at attending the 2012 Olympics.
Stanford undergrad Kristina Vaculik will be chalking her hands during the gymnastics events, but will be at the Games with Canada.
Another Cardinal with Bay Area roots in Santa Rosa is Silas Stafford, competing in men’s pair rowing.
The lesser-known sport of fencing will push a San Francisco teen into the spotlight at his first Olympic appearance.
Alexander Massialas, 18-year-old son of three-time Olympian Greg Massialas who coaches at Halberstadt Fencers’ Club in San Francisco’s Mission District, will compete for Team USA in the foil event.
The young Massialas will be an incoming freshman at Stanford University in the fall.
The West Coast Conference, which represents athletic teams Santa Clara University and Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, proudly listed five connections to the Olympic Games, including several men on the U.S. basketball team; a women’s rowing coach and a men’s volley team manager from Saint Mary’s.
Santa Clara University alumna Brandi Chastain from US Women’s soccer fame will serve as a women’s soccer commentator at the games.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News