Out for Gold
At the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games, all eyes will be on the world’s most gifted athletes, many of whom honed their skills in the Philadelphia suburbs
by Bill Donahue


From July 27 through August 12, the global spotlight shines on London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Some of the world’s finest athletes—including a contingent from the Philadelphia suburbs and surrounding areas—will represent the United States this year in the grandest of all athletic stages. Keep an eye on these nine locally tied athletes as America battles for Olympic gold.

Nicole Barnhart

Born in Pottstown and native to Gilbertsville, women’s soccer goalkeeper Barnhart will serve as understudy to No. 1 goalie Hope Solo, just as she did at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2011 World Cup. Hopes—if not expectations—are high for the U.S. women’s team, which four years ago bested Brazil by a score of 1-0 in the gold medal game.


Kobe Bryant

Bryant, long-running star center for the National Basketball Association’s L.A. Lakers and graduate of Ardmore’s Lower Merion High School, returns to the Olympic stage for a second time. Bryant, who scored 20 points in the gold medal game against Spain in 2008, joins a star-studded men’s basketball squad—Sixers forward Andre Iguadola will be one of his teammates—that’s likely to earn yet another gold in London. (Click here for details on a new book about the U.S. “Dream Team” that 20 years ago took Olympic basketball by storm.)


Lauren Crandall

Doylestown’s Crandall captains a U.S. women’s field hockey squad that’s heavy on Pennsylvanians, including several others from the suburbs. Crandall and Perkasie’s Julie Reinprecht anchor the team’s defensive corps, while midfielder Katie Reinprecht (Julie’s sister) and striker Katie O’Donnell of Blue Bell round out a squad that boasts seven returnees from the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad, which finished eighth overall.


Susan Francia

Born in Szeged, Hungary, the 6-foot, 2-inch Francia moved to the United States as a toddler and started her rowing career at the University of Pennsylvania. A native of Abington and current resident of Princeton, N.J., she got her first taste of Olympic gold as a member of the women’s eight rowing team at the 2008 Games in Beijing—the first gold in this event for the United States since 1984.


Brendan Hansen

Two-time Olympian swimmer Hansen, a Havertown native and Haverford Senior High School alumnus, took gold medals at the 2004 (where he also won silver and bronze medals) and 2008 Games. After his most recent Olympic triumph, media reports suggested that Hansen—now 30—would retire, urging many news outlets to bill the breaststroker’s 2012 Olympic bid as something of a comeback.


Boyd Martin

Every Olympian has a story, but the one shared by West Grove native Martin and his horse, Neville Bardos—both of whom are half American, half Australian—is among the most moving. On Memorial Day 2011, Martin risked his own life to rescue Bardos from a burning barn. Now, little more than a year later, he will ride Bardos at the 2012 Games, in the equestrian triathlon known as eventing, which consists of dressage, cross country and show jumping.


Giddeon Massie

From Bethlehem, cyclist Massie grew up near the Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome in Trexlertown, Pa. Son of a former professional baseball player, Massie grew up playing traditional ball sports but began track cycling at Trexlertown at the age of 9. The veteran of the 2004 and 2008 Olympics also has nearly 20 national cycling titles in his trophy case.


Lisa Raymond

A mainstay on the elite tennis stage since turning pro in 1993, 38-year-old Raymond—born in Norristown, now based in Wayne—and her partner Liezel Huber have become the top-ranked women’s doubles team in the World Tennis Association. As Suburban Life neared press time, the duo was vying for position with Venus and Serena Williams for a spot on the U.S. doubles squad.


Kyle Vashkulat

A first-time Olympian, Vashkulat was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and raised in Langhorne. Vashkulat will have just turned 22 when the Games begin, making him the youngest 100kg American judoka to ever qualify for the Olympic Games. He will also be the youngest overall member on this year’s judo team.