Friday night, several Valley athletes will take part in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. But these athletes are not the only ones who have been able to compete for Team USA. There is an amazing history of Valley Olympians. Here are just a few...
Bob Mathias's life story reads like the tale of a true American hero. Shortly after graduating from Tulare Union High School, he won gold in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games. Mathias became the youngest gold medalist at the time to win a track and field event.
One of the most iconic moments of the 60's was at the 1968 Olympic Games, in Mexico City. Lemoore High alumnus Tommie Smith took gold for the 200 meter dash and his teammate took bronze. It was what they did after the race that shook the sporting world. The men gave a black power salute on the medal stand to bring attention the civil rights struggle back home. To this day, the medal podium photo is a symbol of the civil rights movement.
This year, one of the most accomplished athletes from Fresno State was enshrined in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Softball player Laura Berg won three gold medals and a silver medal. Berg is one of four women in the world to have ever earned a medal in each of the Olympics in which softball was disputed.
Chad McCarty was a member of the U.S. soccer team in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, in Sydney. He returned to his roots in the valley and started the McCarty Soccer Academy.
Valley decathlete, Rafer Johnson, went to school in Kingsburg and is now in the California Hall of Fame. In the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Johnson was in the middle of a heated rivalry with his close friend, C.K.Yang. The two exchanged leads throughout the event, but Johnson came out victorious.
Swimmer Cathy Ferguson was only 16-years-old when she won two gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games in Japan. She won one gold for the 100 meter back stroke and another for the 400 medley relay.