Photos: 26 Olympic Athletes Bringing Home Medals to Southern California
California, and Southern California in particular, dominates the country (and by extension, the world) when it comes to the summer Olympics.
We tried to avoid putting spoilers up on the site while the Olympics were going on, but now that closing ceremony is over, we want to celebrate the Southern Californians who took home the bronze, silver and gold. Our list focuses on athletes who spent most of their formative years here, which means you won't find Kobe Bryant (a Philly native) or Missy Franklin (born in Pasadena) on the list.
Orange County is a powerhouse in particular for producing mostly female athletes in volleyball, water polo and gymnastics. But Southern California also boasts one of the world's sharpest shooters who has medaled five Olympics in a row, and Los Angeles County produces some of the world's best basketball players and fastest track stars, too.
Overall, California produced 23.44% of Olympians for Team USA this year. Not too shabby. It's not just that California is a populous state, according to this study in the Wall Street Journal. We send about 12.07% more athletes on to the Olympics than you'd expect for a state our size. Texas, the next-most populous state, makes up 5.86% of Team USA, making it an Olympic underachiever (probably since American football isn't an event).
If Olympians aren't born in Southern California, a lot of them end up here for college. If USC were its own country, its alumni alone would have ranked sixth among countries in gold medals (ahead of Germany, France and Italy) and 11th in overall medal count.
LAist interns Valerie Chen, Lenika Cruz and Amanda Schwartz contributed to this post.