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Olympics: From past ... to present

Ten SCV athletes have competed in the Games since 1984

Posted: July 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Canyon High graduate Crystl Bustos has two gold and one silver medal. Canyon High graduate Crystl Bustos has two gold and one silver medal.
Canyon High graduate Crystl Bustos has two gold and one silver medal.

Historians can trace some form of the Olympic Games back as far as 2,800 years.

The Santa Clarita Valley didn’t come into the picture until the last 28, when three former SCV athletes took part in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Former Canyon High player Cory Snyder and one-time College of the Canyons player Flavio Alfaro were both part of the 1984 U.S. Olympic baseball team, which took second place.

No official medals were given out because baseball was deemed a demonstration sport at that point before it became official in 1992.

A former COC volleyball player, Linda Chisholm, brought home a silver medal from the ’84 Games in women’s volleyball.

Counting those three, we’re up to 10 SCV products to make Olympic teams all time, four of which are slated to compete in London over the course of the next two weeks.

There are two returning to the Olympics — Santa Clarita resident Allyson Felix (track) and Hart High graduate Anthony Ervin (swimming).

And there are a pair of first-timers — Canyon graduate Alysia Montano (track) and Saugus graduate David Smith (volleyball).

“When I first started playing volleyball, it was just something I did for fun after my soccer season,” Smith said.

“I’ve always dreamed about being in the Olympics growing up, but I don’t think I realized that volleyball was the way I could achieve that dream.”

In addition, there are a handful of Olympians with local ties.

Kim Rhode, who trains as a skeet and trap shooter in the SCV, is making her fifth Olympic appearance this year.

She’s already won two golds and a bronze in double trap shooting and a silver in skeet shooting.

College of the Canyons volunteer assistant track and field coach Lashinda Demus is also returning to the Games after competing in the 400-meter hurdles in 2004. She’ll take part in the same event this time around.

As for the homegrown athletes making Olympic comebacks, the storylines are plenty compelling.

Ervin, a former Canyons Aquatics Club swimmer, qualified for his first Olympics since the Sydney Games in 2000, where he won gold in the 50-meter freestyle and silver in the 400-meter relay at age 19.

Three years later, Ervin retired and reportedly auctioned off his gold medal for more than $17,000, which he donated to a relief fund for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Now 31, Ervin is back in the pool, where he swam a lifetime best time of 21.60 seconds in the Olympic trials to qualify once again in the 50 free.

“The medal is up there. Whether I can land one or not, I hope so,” Ervin told The Associated Press after his qualifying swim on July 1. “I’m going to try my best. I’m not controlling what anyone else is doing. There are incredible swimmers around the world that will be there. All I can promise is I’m going to do what I can.”

Felix, on the other hand, is becoming somewhat of an Olympic veteran headed into her third straight Summer Games.

She comes in with the simple, yet elusive, goal of winning her first individual gold medal after earning silver in the 200-meter in both the 2004 and 2008 Games.

She also won a gold in the 4x400 relay in 2008, but she wants one to call her own.

“I feel like I’ve had so long to think about getting silver,” Felix told The Signal in April. “It’s a constant motivator. I couldn’t be any more determined to get it done. I’m just happy to hopefully have another opportunity.”

She’ll have twice the chance to do so this time around, qualifying in both the 100 and 200 events for the first time in her career. The 26-year-old will also run for the 4x100 relay team.

For runners like Montano, Felix has been a source of inspiration.

“She’s been setting a legacy far before any of the other (local) athletes were (competing),” said the 26-year-old Montano of Felix. “She kind of paved the way for the rest of us Santa Claritans.”

But it all started in 1984.

Since then, we’ve seen Canyon graduate Crystl Bustos emerge as one of the best Olympic softball players of all time, winning gold in 2000 and 2004 and a silver in 2008.

Bustos was one of the best hitters on all three teams, holding the Olympic record with 14 career home runs.

Saugus graduate Nicole Giordano also collected a gold on the 2004 U.S. Olympic softball team.

Those two might be the last of the SCV products to play softball in the Olympics, as the sport was removed as an event following the 2008 Games.

The final local Olympian from the past is Mike Day, a Valencia High graduate who took home a silver in the inaugural BMX racing event in 2008.

For a mere 28 years of SCV Olympians, the medal count is already piling up.

This summer, four more athletes have their chances add to the pile.

As they say, let the Games begin.


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