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BEIJING 2008

Vying for a golden state

But silver and bronze would be great too, as native Californians and those who train here gun for medals in dozens of events.

August 08, 2008|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

If Southern California were an independent country, it would stand near the top of the Olympic medal rankings for the Beijing Games.

Athletes from this area, or those who train here, will return with plenty of hardware. Here's a sport-by-sport look at local athletes who have good chances to win a medal:

ARCHERY

Khatuna Lorig -- She's competing in her fourth Olympics, for her third country -- the former Soviet Union (unified team) in 1992, then the former Soviet state Georgia, and now as an L.A. resident.

AQUATICS

(swimming, diving, synchro, water polo)

SWIMMING

Amanda Beard -- Owns seven medals (two gold, four silver, one bronze) from three Olympics. Eighth is a longshot, but so was making the team.

Larsen Jensen -- USC alum qualified for the 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle races. Set an American record in the 400 at the trials, 3:43.53. Silver medalist at Athens in the 400.

Jason Lezak -- Has two gold medals, one silver and one bronze from last two Olympics. Will swim the 100 free and 400-meter freestyle relay.

Aaron Peirsol -- Irvine native will swim the 100 and 200 backstroke.

DIVING

Troy Dumais -- This will be the third Olympics for the Ventura native, who trains in Texas. He hasn't finished higher than sixth, and he will have to be perfect to dent Chinese divers' dominance.

WATER POLO

Men's

Tony Azevedo -- If the men's water polo team wins a medal, it will be because of this 26-year-old Stanford graduate from Long Beach. This three-time Olympian is a gifted scorer who ranked second in goals at Athens, with 15.

Women's

Heather Petri -- Long Beach resident is one of two three-time U.S. water polo Olympians on the women's team. An attacker, she played two professional seasons in Florence, Italy.

Brenda Villa -- Commerce native, 28, is captain of the women's water polo team and the squad's other three-time female Olympian. Played on boys' team at Bell Gardens High before leading Stanford to an NCAA title.

ATHLETICS

(what the rest of the world calls track and field)

Bryan Clay -- In good shape to repeat as Olympic decathlon champion. Glendora resident set a U.S. Olympic trials record of 8,832 points, best in the world this season.

Shawn Crawford -- He led a U.S. sweep of the 200 in Athens but subsequently struggled with injuries. Now coached by Bobby Kersee in Los Angeles.

Torri Edwards -- USC alumna missed Athens Games because of a drug ban but is a medal contender at 31. Second at U.S. trials in the 100; scratched from the 200. Candidate for 400-meter relay.

Allyson Felix -- USC graduate and Los Angeles native won the 200 at the Olympic trials after missing a berth in the 100. Also expected to run a leg of the 400-meter relay.

Ryan Hall -- U.S. trials marathon champion. Grew up in Big Bear Lake, now lives in Bay Area. His 2:06.17 at the London Marathon this year was the second-fastest ever by an American man.

Monique Henderson -- NCAA champion for UCLA in the 400 and Athens gold medalist in the 1,600-meter relay, she's in the relay pool again. U.S. and Jamaica figure to vie for gold.

Deena Kastor -- Athens bronze medalist in the marathon, she managed a late surge to win the marathon trials race. Agoura High graduate lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes.

Angela Williams -- Four-time NCAA champion in the 100 at USC. Second successive Olympics she was chosen for the 400-meter relay pool. Should be great competition between U.S. and Jamaican sprinters.

BADMINTON

Howard Bach and Khan "Bob" Malaythong of Orange will team in men's doubles. Bach became the first U.S. athlete to win a medal at the world championships when he won men's doubles in 2005.

BASEBALL

Matthew Brown -- Angels infield prospect, but can he still be called that when he will be 26 the day of the Beijing opening ceremony?

Trevor Cahill -- Oceanside native was drafted by Oakland in the second round of the 2006 draft. He was the organizational pitcher of the year last season with Class-A Kane County.

Mike Hessman -- Right-hander has spent most of the last four seasons with triple-A Toledo.

Kevin Jepsen -- Anaheim native has bounced around the minor leagues since 2003. He's a right-hander.

Brandon Knight -- From Oxnard and Ventura Junior College. Oldest player at 32. Has started and relieved.

Mike Koplove -- Right-handed pitcher from Philadelphia was with Cleveland before he signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers last December.

Jeff Stevens -- Former Loyola Marymount pitcher was drafted by Cincinnati in 2005 and traded to Cleveland the following year.

Stephen Strasburg -- Youngest member of the team at 20. San Diego native pitches for San Diego State.

Terry Tiffee -- The Dodgers are the third organization for this 29-year-old infielder.

BASKETBALL

MEN'S

Kobe Bryant -- Lakers guard will make his Olympic debut at Beijing. He will turn 30 the day before the men's gold-medal game, in which the U.S. should be playing.

WOMEN'S

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