The Olympics are an arena for athletes from around the globe to come together in competition. U.S. athletes come from all walks of life, with many hailing from high schools and universities nationwide. A number of those on Olympic teams also boast community college affiliation, whether they compete for the U.S. or their home country. Many of these athletes have shattered records at their schools before heading to the international arena to compete in their sports. Check out these Olympic athletes competing in London in 2012 with ties to local community colleges in the U.S.
Santa Monica Swimmer to Compete for Tunisia
At Santa Monica College, Ahmed Mathlouthi has spent his freshman year shattering a number of swimming records set by previous California community college athletes. At the age of 22, this talented athlete has won over swim fans and coaches alike, as he won three individual events – and broke current records in the process – at the California Community College Athletic Association’s championship meet this past April. According to the Santa Monica Patch, Mathlouthi broke records in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle. The swimmer also won all three events in that competition.
“His combined efforts at state will go down as one of the greatest single performances of any sport ever in California Community College athletic history,” a press report was quoted as saying by the Santa Monica Patch. “He finished as an All-American in seven different events (three relays) and was the nation’s fastest swimmer this season in the three state-winning events.”
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After his stellar performance this past spring, Mathlouthi found himself Olympic-bound, representing his home country of Tunisia. He planned to compete in a single event – the 200-meter freestyle – during the Summer Games. Unfortunately, Mathlouthi did not progress to the semi-finals once he reached London, placing sixth in his heat.
Second-Fastest Man Hails from Barton County Community College
Swimming isn’t the only Olympic sport boasting community college students and alums. Barton County Community College is proud to be home for the second-fastest man in history, Tyson Gay, who is representing the U.S. in Track and Field events during the 2012 Olympics. Gay will be running the 100-meter against gold-medal favorites Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. While there has been much talk about whether Gay is ready to compete this year after hip surgery last summer, Gay doesn’t want to hear about it.
“Hip’s good,” Gay told the Huffington Post. “I don’t have any excuses. Whatever happens, happens.”
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The USA Track and Field website lists Gay as the American record holder in the 100-meter, with a time of 9.69 seconds. This time is the second-fastest in the world, right behind Bolt’s world record time of 9.58. During his college years, Gay was the 2004 NCAA 100m champion and the 2002 Junior College 100m champion.
Former Hinds Community College Student Competing in Track and Field
Another community college attraction in the track and field events during the 2012 Olympics will be Trell Kimmons. This former Hinds Community College student will compete in London as a part of the 4x100 men’s relay team. Kimmons has many accolades under his belt in his sport, as a four-time champion who set two community college records during his time at Hinds. Kimmons is excited to be a part of the 2012 Olympic team this year.
“It is every professional athlete’s goal to reach the Olympics, and unless you’re in the military, you cannot say that you represented your country,” Kimmons was reported saying on the Hinds Community College website. “I’m proud to represent Hinds Community College, the state of Mississippi and the United States in the London Olympics.”
Former Bronze Medal Winner Comes from Barton County Community College
Barton County Community College appears to be a hub for aspiring Olympic athletes, with another former student on a quest to win her second Olympic medal of her career. Hyleas Fountain won a bronze medal in the heptathlon in the 2008 Olympics and hopes to add to her medal collection this year with another go at the event. Fountain overcame a neck injury in 2011 to get herself to the Olympic games this year, but her quest for gold could be an uphill climb.
The heptathlon is a grueling event that consists of seven track and field events:
- 100m Hurdles
- High Jump
- Shot Put
- Long Jump
- Javelin Throw
The events are completed over a course of two days, with four events on the first day and three on the second. Female athletes have been competing in this event since the 1980s.
Prior to her Olympic success, Fountain enjoyed a winning record during her college years as well, as the 2004 NCAA Outdoor long jump champion, the 2003 NCAA Outdoor champion and the 2004 NCAA Indoor long jump and heptathlon champion. According to the USA Track and Field website, Fountain also tied the American record for the women’s pentathlon in 2010 at the World Indoor Championships.
Every Olympic athlete has a story, and these Olympians hailing from community colleges across the country are no exception. With stellar athletic records behind them, both from their college careers and after, every one of these community college athletes has arrived at London with their eye on the gold. While not every athlete may reach the coveted position on the podium, they can rest assured their community college professors and fellow students will be watching with interest and pride to see just how far their classmates can go.
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