5 Western hopefuls for the 2012 Olympics

The West has a knack for producing Olympians. Here are five athletes we think will head to London for the 2012 Games

Natalie Coughlin, swimmer

Natalie Coughlin, swimmer

Events: 100-meter butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle

Hails from: Vallejo, CA

Western inspiration: “Because we lived in California and had a pool in our backyard, I started swimming lessons at a very young age and have been swimming ever since.”

All (green) thumbs: At home in Lafayette, Natalie tends seven terraced gardens and her five chickens – she even makes her own compost tea. “I love spending time in the garden - it’s a good way for me to get my mind off the pool and off the training and just be in the moment.”

Best day trip: “I love to drive down to Tomales Bay and go to one of the oyster farms. Hog Island is a favorite, it’s beautiful and right on the water. You shuck your own oysters and get some cheese and a beer or glass of wine.”


Brady Ellison, archer

Brady Ellison, archer

Event: Men’s recurve

Hails from: Glendale, AZ

Western inspiration: “[Arizona’s] wide-open spaces led me to an outdoorsy sport, and living in the West gave me that work-from-sun-up-to-sun-down attitude, where you just do what needs to be done.”

How he gets away: “The Woods Canyon Lake turnoff [near Payson, AZ]. There’s a big lookout that looks over, you can see for – oh – miles, right on the Mogollon rim. I’m in love with a lot of Arizona. If you want to go hike or do something, you can go out and drive on a dirt road and get lost, just get out somewhere and be away from people.”


Carmelita Jeter, sprinter

Carmelita Jeter, sprinter

Events: 100 and 200 meter

Hails from: Gardena, CA

Where she works up a sweat: “I love horseback riding at All Star Ranch [in Moreno Valley]. After the Olympics, I’m thinking about buying a horse.” In the off-season, you’ll find her hill-training at Kenneth Hahn Park or running in the sand at Venice Beach.

Where she chills out: “Lucky Strike [on Hollywood Boulevard] is like a grown-up bowling alley! I love to bowl, but I’m not the best bowler. I’m trying to get into it a little more, and want to take a little step further - like bowling competitions.”


Merrill Moses, water polo

Merrill Moses, water polo

Position: Goalkeeper

Hails from: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Western inspiration: “The West Coast is known for its weather and beaches, so I was always in the water at a young age. I learned how to water ski at 2. Our whole water polo team is from the West.”

California dreaming: “I love the fact that you could be at the beach one second, then drive three hours to Big Bear and you’re in the snow. That’s the beauty of California: having access to both things very close. My parents had a cabin in Big Bear Mountains when I was growing up, that’s where I learned how to water ski and snow ski. I could say I love snowboarding in California but it’s not true. I love to go to Vail, Colorado – the Back Bowls there for snowboarding are incredible. It’s one of my favorite places to snowboard.”


Mariel Zagunis, fencer

Mariel Zagunis, fencer

Event: Women’s saber

Hails from: Beaverton, OR

Where she works up a sweat: “There are a bunch of trails within the Portland city limits and one of my favorites to do is to start at an area called Lower Macleay [in Forest Park]. It’s actually a really tough run because it’s almost all uphill and there are lot of switchbacks, but when you’re out there and just running up there in the wilderness all by yourself and hearing your feet crunch on the leaves and mud, it’s really refreshing.”

Best summer treat: “Whenever it’s berry season I always make sure to go straight to the little Williamson Family Farms stand in Beaverton. I will go and buy, like, two crates full – they have the best berries! I just eat the entire thing, they’re so good.”


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