The London 2012 Olympic Games were full of highs and lows for many of the local athletes who competed across the pond for Team USA.
With two days of competition remaining, nine of the 90 medals secured by USA will make their way back to Illinois with five more medals up for grabs in men’s and women’s basketball.
As our Olympians prepare to make the journey home, take a look back at the events which had thousands of people glued to their T.V.’s, computers, and social media feeds.
Local Highs: Kelci Bryant of Chatham, Ill., found redemption in London for Team USA and herself in the Women’s Synchronized 3-meter Springboard. She secured the first silver medal of the Games with her partner Abby Johnston. Four years earlier and with a different partner, Bryant left Beijing just shy of a medal with a fourth place finish. Bryant and Johnston’s medal also ended a 12-year drought for Team USA in the event.
Local Tries: Christian Loukas of Riverwood, was looking for improvement from her ninth place finish in Beijing during her second go for an Olympic medal at the London Games. While she missed out on a medal, Loukas finished eighth in the finals and improved her score from four years ago. “Compared to my results in Beijing, I came a long way,” said Loukas, whose family owns the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville.
Tri-State Honorable Mentions: Indiana native David Boudia was searching for a medal in his second Olympic Games and found it in Men’s Sychronized 10-meter Platform with partner Nick McCroy. While Boudia placed 10th during his Olympic debut in Beijing for the same event, this time McCroy and he secured a bronze medal in the event.
Local Highs: Amy LePeilbet of Crystal Lake and her teammates on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team scored one of the biggest redemptions during the London Games. The gold medal final turned into a rematch of the 2011 World Cup match against Japan, and the women were playing with vengeance. The nail-biter of a game ended with a 2-1 victory for the Americans over Japan. It marked the third consecutive Olympic gold medal for the women.
Tri-State Honorable Mentions: Notre Dame Alum Shannon Boxx along with Lori Lindsey and Lauren Cheney of Indianapolis were also members of this year’s golden team. Boxx and Cheney are both returning players on the Olympic team, while Lindsey made her debut as a replacement player on the squad.
Local Highs: It’s hard to talk about the swimming events without mentioning the incredible feat of Michael Phelps, who hase become the most decorated Olympian in history with 22 Olympic medals. But three of those medals would not be possible without the help of Chicago area residents Matt Grevers of Lake Forest, Conor Dwyer of Winnetka, and Tyler McGill of Champaign.
Grevers returned to London for his second Olympic games, after winning two gold medals and a silver medal in Beijing. He swam in the preliminary heat for the Men’s 4x100-meter Freestyle Relay, setting up Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Cullen Jones, and Nathan Adrian to win the silver medal. The very next day, Grevers won an individual gold medal for the 100-meter backstroke. A few days later, Grevers helped Phelps win his 22nd gold medal when he swam the first leg of the Men’s 4x100-meter Medley Relay.
Dwyer also contributed to Phelp’s medal count during his Olympic debut in London. The Winnetka native swam his way to gold with Phelps, Lotche and Ricky in the men’s 4x200-meter Freestyle Relay Final. He also competed in the Men’s 400-meter Freestyle and placed fifth in the finals.
McGill made his Olympic debut swimming alongside Phelps in the Men’s 100-meter Butterfly Final. He was in lane 3, while Phelps was in lane 4. McGill finished in seventh place, about .67 of a second behind the gold medal winner, Phelps. Hours later, he swam in the preliminary heat for the Men’s 4x100-meter Medley Relay which set up Grevers, Phelps, Adrian and Bredan Hansen for the final to win gold.
Tri-state Honorable Mentions: Michigan native Allison Schmitt helped Team USA break one world record and one Olympic record, while also breaking an individual Olympic record during her second Olympic Games. Schmitt takes home a total of five medals from London, including three gold medals to remember each record she broke – Women’s 4x100 Medley Relay, Women’s 4x200 Freestyle Relay, and Women’s 200-meter Freestyle.
Michigan swimmer Peter Vanderkaay brings home a bronze souvenir from his third Olympic Games. Vanderkaay finished third in the Men’s 400-meter Freestyle. His bronze medal from the London Games will be added to a gold he won in Sydney along with gold and bronze medals from Beijing.
Local Highs: Melissa Seidemann made her Olympic debut thanks to a big gamble in her quest to help the women find redemption after losing the gold-medal match in Beijing. Seidemann, a member of the Stanford University water polo team, redshirted this year to compete in the Games. It paid off when the Americans topped Spain 8-5 in the final match and won their first ever Olympic women’s water polo medal.
Tri-state Honorable Mentions: Michigan native Betsey Armstrong was one of the five veterans from the 2008 Games to compete in London. As the team's goalkeeper, Armstrong was able to find golden redemption this time around.
Track & Field
Local Highs: When Dawn Harper of East St. Louis, Ill., won gold in the 100-meter hurdles in Beijing, no one could anticipate the long road she would travel to compete in her second Olympic Games. She suffered injuries and underwent knee surgery in 2011, but came to London healthy and ready to compete after winning the event during the U.S. Olympic Trials. Harper finished with a personal best time and claimed the silver medal.
Local Tries: Algonquin’s Evan Jager made his debut in the 3000-meter steeplechase. The 20-year-old finished second in his heat with a time of 8:16.61 during qualification, advancing him to the final round where he placed sixth.
Chicago-born Wallace Spearmon traveled to London looking for redemption after he was disqualified from the bronze medal position during the 200-meter race at the Beijing Games. He punched his ticket to London by winning the event during the U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 19.82 seconds. Spearmon just missed a medal during the 200-meter final, where he placed fourth and Usain Bolt took home gold.
After 11 years of competing, Gia Lewis-Smallwood of Champaign competed on her first Olympic Team in the Women’s Discus Throw. She missed qualifying for the finals and finished eighth in her heat and fifteenth overall.
Lance Brooks of New Berlin trained for his Olympic debut in the Men’s Discus Throw by working construction for 12 hours a day. Brooks finished 12th in his group during the qualifying round and 21st overall, but he did not advance to the final.
Tri-state Honorable Mentions: Michigan runner Dathan Ritzenhein made his third Olympic appearance in the Men’s 10,000-meter race looking for a medal. He finished the final in thirteenth place.
Minnesota runner Kara Goucher punched her second ticket to the Olympics for the Women’s marathon after competing in the 5000-meter and 10,000-meter races in Beijing. She finished 11th in the marathon.
Michigan runner Desiree Davila found redemption when she made the 2012 Olympic Team for Women’s marathon after failing to make the team in 2008 for Beijing. Davila began the marathon, but she did not finish.
Minnesota native Amanda Smock was the only American to compete in the women’s triple jump during the London Games. During her Olympic debut, she finished 11th in her group and 27th overall. She did not advance to the final.
Notre Dame Alumn Molly Huddle punched her ticket for London after competing three times in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 5000-meter race. She made it through qualification with a season best time of 15:05.26 in the event and placed 11th in the final.
Michigan runner Geena Gall made her Olympic debut in the Women’s 800-meter race. She made it past the qualification rounds but fell short of advancing to the finals.
Local Tries: Donald Young of Chicago made his Olympic debut during the Men’s Single’s in London. Young fell to Italy’s Andreas Seppi during the first round.
Local Tries: Wheaton native Sean Rooney made his second Olympic appearance in London with hopes of helping the men win their second consecutive gold medal. Team USA was able to recover from a shocking loss to Russia and made it into the quarterfinals where the Italians topped the Americans 3-0.
Local Tries: Ellis Coleman of Oak Park made his Olympic debut in Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling as the youngest member on the team. Coleman became a YouTube sensation after pulling his signature move, the “Flying Squirrel,” at the 2011 Junior Worlds. But not even his signature move could advance him to the next round after he fell to Bulgaria’s Ivo Angelov during qualification. A few days later, Coleman was in good spirits as he wrestled Today’s Matt Lauer.
Honorable Mentions: Minnesota wrestler Chas Betts punched his ticket to London after he championed the U.S. Olympic Trials for Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling. Betts, who also specializes in motion design, advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating Micronesia’s Keitani Graham. But fell to Cuba’s Pablo Enrique Shorey Hernandez, who advanced to the quarter finals.
Wisconsin native Ben Provisor made his Olympic debut in Men’s Greco-Roman Wrestling. He competed against Cuba’s Alexi Bel during qualification and won. The 21-year-old then advanced to the next round where he fell to Georgia’s Zurabi Datunashvili.
Local Tries: Aurora’s Anna Li earned her spot as an alternate on the women’s team during the U.S. Olympic Trials. Li was unable to compete after a fall on the uneven bars during training before the Games began, which resulted in a torn neck ligament.
Tri-State Honorable Mentions: Reigning all-around world champion gymnast Jordyn Wieber had a rough start to the London Games that finished with a gold medal. Wieber, a favorite to bring home gold, was beat out by teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas during the qualification for all-around individual competition. However, Team USA qualified for the team competition and she qualified for a chance at an individual medal in the floor exercise. Team USA won the gold, but Wieber stepped out of bounds during her floor exercise routine and did not win an individual medal.
Michigan resident Sam Mikulak punched his ticket to London despite an ankle injury during the first day of trials. Team USA qualified for the Men’s Team Final and Mikulak qualified for the Men’s Vault individual competition. The men placed fifth in the team final. Mikulak also placed fifth during his individual competition.
Local Tries: Chicagoan Bob Willis is the last American to compete in the Olympic windsurfing competition before the event is retired from the Games. Willis had good runs the first couple rounds of the event, but found himself in the 30 spot at the end of 10 races.
DeKalb natives Grant and Ross James made their Olympic debut in the Men’s Eight Rowing crew. The twins and crew fell short of a medal and placed fourth in the final. These two are not done with rowing quite yet, they told NBC Chicago.
Itasca native Sarah Zelenka earned her first Olympic berth with partner Sarah Hendershot in the Women’s Pair Rowing. The pair cruised into the finals where they finished just shy of a medal in fourth place.