Free Staters aim to prove medal

The Baltimore Sun

Following are athletes with Maryland ties competing in the Beijing Games. We tried to compile the most comprehensive list possible, but if you know of an athlete or coach we left out, please e-mail us at sports@baltsun.com.

Michael Phelps

Rodgers Forge

Age 23

Event: Swimming

Bio: Widely considered the best swimmer in the world and a candidate for best ever, Phelps will swim eight events in Beijing and attempt to match or exceed Mark Spitz's total of seven gold medals at one Games. Beijing will be his third Olympics. He nearly matched Spitz's mark four years ago, winning six gold medals and two bronze in Athens. If anything, he was more dominant at last year's world championships, setting five world records. He appeared to be nearing peak form at the Olympic trials, winning every individual event he will swim in Beijing and adding two more world records.

Quote: "You guys in the media are always talking about seven gold medals. I don't ever talk about that. I'm just a very competitive person in everything I do, and I'm doing what I love."

Katie Hoff

Towson

Age: 19

Event: Swimming

Bio: The closest thing to a female Phelps. Incredibly, they both trained at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Hoff is expected to swim five individual events and a relay in Beijing and will be favored to win at least three gold medals. She swam at the Athens Games in 2004, finishing seventh in the 200-meter individual medley and 17th in the 400-meter individual medley. She won gold in both events and in the 800-meter freestyle relay at the 2005 and 2007 world championships. Hoff won five individual events and set one world and three American records at the Olympic trials.

Quote: "I'm not one of those swimmers who doesn't want to see other swimmers' results. I'm on all those swimming Web sites, checking out how my competitors are doing. I know they'll be at their best in Beijing, and I want to be at my best."

Carmelo Anthony

Baltimore

Age: 24

Event: Basketball

Bio: The former Towson Catholic star will be playing in his second Olympics. After carrying Syracuse to a national title in his lone college season, Anthony has scored 24.4 points a game in five NBA seasons for the Denver Nuggets. But he has struggled with off-court problems, recently pleading guilty to driving while ability-impaired. Nonetheless, he is expected to be a key scorer for the national team in Beijing. He played sparingly as the U.S. struggled to a bronze medal in Athens but blossomed into the team's leading scorer during the 2006 FIBA World Championship.

Natalie Woolfolk

Arnold

Age: 24

Event: Weightlifting

Bio: Woolfolk is the national weight-class champion in the snatch, which requires her to thrust a barbell from the floor to above her head in a single motion. At 135 pounds, she can lift 220. The Broadneck High graduate learned the sport from her father, Kirk, the strength and conditioning coach at the U.S. Naval Academy. She's engaged to Casey Burgener, a 272-pound lifter who will also compete for the U.S. in Beijing.

Quote: "When people ask me what I do, I say I lift heavy things over my head all day. It sounds silly, but really, what do [the Orioles] do? They throw a ball around all day."

Mechelle Lewis

Fort Washington

Age: 27

Event: Track and field

Bio: Lewis finished seventh in the 100-meter dash at the Olympic trials and is expected to run for the 400-meter relay team during preliminary heats in Beijing. She was a state champion at Oxon Hill in Prince George's County and went on to become an All-American at South Carolina. She emerged on the world stage in 2007, when she won silver medals in the 100 meters and 400-meter relay at the Pan American Games in Brazil. She lives in Raleigh, N.C.

Jamie Schroeder

Baltimore

Age: 26

Event: Sculling

Bio: Schroeder will be rowing in his second Olympics. His four-man boat finished 10th in Athens. He switched to sculling in 2006, and his four-man scull recently beat several elite international competitors at a World Cup event in Lucerne, Switzerland. Schroeder is a Stanford graduate working toward a graduate degree in physiology from Oxford. He plans to then attend medical school at Johns Hopkins. He will marry former Sun Athlete of the Year Kelsey Twist and settle in Baltimore after the Games. The Beijing Olympics could be his final world-class competition.

Quote: "I don't feel any pressure, like this is my last chance or something. You have to go into every race as if it's your last one."

Scott Parsons

Bethesda

Age: 29

Event: Kayak

Bio: Parsons will paddle in his second Olympics after finishing sixth in Athens in 2004. He moved from Ohio in 1997 to kayak the Potomac with his brother, Brian, a former whitewater racer. Parsons is ranked seventh in the world.

Khankham Malaythong

Rockville

Age: 27

Event: Badminton

Bio: The first-time Olympian plays out of the Orange County Badminton Club in California. He will compete in men's doubles with 2004 Olympian Howard Bach and in mixed doubles with Mesinee "May" Mangkalakiri. Malaythong moved to Maryland from Laos as a child. He goes by the name "Bob."

Quote: "We're fighting for respect as a team. We're fighting to make badminton more mainstream. I want the gold."

Gao Jun

Gaithersburg

Age: 39

Event: Table tennis

Bio: Gao will return to her native country in hopes of winning a first-ever table tennis medal for her adopted homeland. She began playing at the age of 5 and learned the game in a Chinese system that has routinely produced the best players in the world. She won a silver medal in women's doubles for China in 1992. Gao came to the United States when she married in 1994 (she is divorced). She played in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics for the U.S. and is ranked 25th in the world.

Gary Russell Jr.

Capitol Heights

Age : 20

Event: Boxing

Bio: The 5-foot-5 Russell boxes in the bantamweight class. He qualified for Beijing in dramatic fashion, losing his opening-round bout to Roberto Marroquin but rebounding to beat Marroquin in the finals at Olympic team trials. He then secured his spot with a win at the World Boxing Championships in October. He was a national Golden Gloves champion in 2005 and also won a bronze medal at the world championships that year. He has boxed since he was 7 years old and is trained by his father, Gary Sr.

Quote: "It feels wonderful," he said after qualifying for Beijing. "The only thing I've got to go for is that gold."

Georgia Gould

Baltimore

Age: 28

Event: Mountain biking

Bio: Gould, who was raised in Baltimore and attended Roland Park Country School, is the nation's top-ranked mountain biker at No. 7 in the world. She won the 2006 national championship in the sport and is considered a dark-horse candidate to win a medal in Beijing. She lives in Fort Collins, Colo.

Quote: "I get paid to ride my bicycle through the woods. That's the coolest thing. It's the best job ever."

Dina Rizzo

Age: 28

Event: Field hockey

Bio: Rizzo, a former All-American at Maryland who has returned to College Park as a volunteer assistant coach, will play in her first Olympics in Beijing. The Massachusetts native has competed as a forward for the U.S. national team since 2002. She helped Maryland to an NCAA title in 1999 and graduated in 2002. The U.S. team hasn't played in an Olympics since 1996 and hasn't won a medal since 1984.

Keli Smith

Age: 29

Event: Field hockey

Bio: Smith was an All-American at Maryland and has played forward on the U.S. national team since she graduated in 2001. The Pennsylvania native was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference's 50th anniversary team. This will be her first Olympics, and she is expected to start at forward.

Lauren Powley

Age: 24

Event: Field hockey

Bio: Powley was a three-time first-team All-American at Maryland and is in her third season as a midfielder on the U.S. national team. The Pennsylvania native graduated from Maryland in 2006. She will compete in her first Olympics in Beijing.

Kerry McCoy

Age: 34

Event: Freestyle wrestling

Bio: McCoy, who was named Maryland's wrestling coach in March, will help coach the U.S. team in Beijing. He competed in two Olympics, finishing fifth in 2000 and seventh in 2004, after an All-America career at Penn State. He then turned around Stanford's wrestling program before accepting the Maryland job.

Jay Antonelli

Age: 37

Event: Greco-Roman wrestling

Bio: Antonelli, a 1992 Naval Academy graduate, will coach the U.S. Greco-Roman team in Beijing. He was also a member of the Olympic coaching staff in 2000 and has been a successful international coach since. Before coaching, he was a two-time letter winner in freestyle wrestling at Navy and a nationally ranked Greco-Roman competitor for the U.S. Marines team. Maj. Antonelli has served as a public affairs officer for the Marines in Afghanistan and Baghdad.

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