I have been through so many ups and downs, most of us have but God chose me in this moment and I couldn’t be more grateful. No matter how low you get always remain determined, have faith, and remember that there are no limits to your GREATNESS. Once you believe that, you will unlock the power within yourself to accomplish things beyond your imagination. Is it safe to say that I am BACK love y’all and thank you so much for the love and support I see you!! #GloryToGod #BryGang #Rio2016
While LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ryan Tannehill dominated the South Florida sports headlines over the past four years, 41 athletes with local ties toiled away — most of them in relative obscurity — with dreams of making the Rio Olympics.
Here are 11 of those athletes with South Florida connections to be on the lookout for this summer that you can follow on Instagram.
▪ Danell Leyva, Homestead , Gymnastics: The 2012 Olympics All-American bronze medalist and reigning world silver medalist on high bar. He is coached by his stepfather and mother, both of whom competed for the Cuban national team before defecting to the United States. He was added to the team for Rio after John Orozco went down with a torn ACL.
▪ Sylvia Fowles, Miami, women’s basketball: The 6-6 center who played at Edison High and Gulliver is in her third Olympics. She is a two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and in 2015 led the Minnesota Lynx to the league title and was named MVP.
▪ Ashleigh Johnson, Redlands/Ransom High School, water polo: The first black American on the U.S. women’s water polo team, and the only non-Californian on the team. After leaving Ransom, she attended Princeton University.
▪ Brianna Rollins, Miami Northwestern, track and field 100 hurdles: Her time of 12.26 seconds is the fourth-fastest in history. Rollins attended Clemson and won the 2013 World Championship.
▪ Lexi Thompson, Coral Springs, golf: At 21, she has already won eight tournaments. At 12 became youngest player to qualify for U.S. Open. At 16, youngest to win an LPGA tournament.
▪ Serena Williams, Palm Beach Gardens, tennis: Top-ranked player in the world, winner of 22 Grand Slam titles, competing in fourth Olympics. She has won four gold medals — three in doubles with sister, Venus (2000, 2008, 2012) and singles in 2012.
▪ Venus Williams, Palm Beach Gardens, tennis: Won singles gold medal at Sydney Olympics in 2000, and has won three doubles titles with sister, Serena.
▪ Foluke Akinradewo, Fort Lauderdale (St. Thomas Aquinas), women’s volleyball: One of four returning players from the 2012 Olympic silver medal team. The 6-3 middle blocker graduated from Stanford and has U.S.-Canadian-Nigerian triple citizenship.
▪ Sam Dorman, UM, synchro diving: A 2015 NCAA champion at UM, will be competing in Rio in synchronized 3-meter diving with Indiana’s Michael Hixon, with whom he just partnered shortly before the Olympic trials.
▪ Nick Delpopolo, Miami, judo, 73 kg: Was sent home from the 2012 London Olympics for a positive marijuana test. He says he inadvertently ingested it in a brownie at a pre-Olympics party. Serbia-born, raised by foster family in New Jersey, moved to South Florida in 2014 to get a fresh start with coaches Evelro Garcia and Orlando Fuentes.
▪ Angelica Delgado, Miami (Ferguson High, FIU), judo 52 kg: Her father, Miguel, was a member of the Cuban national team and introduced her to the sport at age 9. She’s a three-time U.S. champion and two-time Pan American Games bronze medalist.
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