Athletes with connections to Washington state harvested four more medals, including a gold by Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, at the Olympic Games in London Saturday. A fifth medal candidate, former Washington State University middle-distance runner and four-time Olympian Bernard Lagat, missed getting one by a fraction of a second.
In addition to Bird’s gold, ex-University of Washington volleyball players Courtney Thompson and Tamari Miyashiro earned silver medals and Bird’s Storm teammate, Lauren Jackson, collected a bronze.
One of three U.S. captains, Bird won her third gold (also Athens, 2004 and Beijing 2008) when the USA women’s basketball team crushed France 86-50 in the gold-medal game. Bird played 24 minutes, scored 11 points (hit five of her seven shots) and added two rebounds and two assists.
Candace Parker led the scoring with 21 points. Bird’s 11 was second high for the United States, which has won five consecutive Olympics.
“Winning is fun, it feels good, there’s no better feeling,” said Bird. “There have been many great players before us who set the standard, and we just wanted to continue it. We did this for them as much as we did it for ourselves.”
Asked if the USA ever felt in peril in the Olympic tournament, Bird said, “This is no disrepect, we always felt as long as we played our best we would be all right. Australia played its best half of the tournament against us in the first half of the semifinals (led by four points) and we took the punch. I think what we’ve done speaks to the talent on our team, and also our depth.”
Thompson and Miyashiro won silver medals as part of the USA women’s volleyball team that surprisingly lost the gold-medal match to Brazil 3-1 (11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17). Heavy favorites, the Americans had won 21 sets in the Olympic tournament while losing only two, and had beaten Brazil 3-1 in the preliminary rounds.
Thompson and Miyashiro, both All-America players at the UW during the mid-to-late 2000s, were competing in their first Games.
The silver was the third for the U.S. women. The others came in 1984 (Los Angeles) and 2008 (Beijing).
The Storm’s Jackson scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, leading Australia to an 83-74 victory over Russia in the bronze-medal game. Jackson had 21 of her 25 points in the second half.
“I didn’t want to leave empty handed,” Jackson said. “That would have been a tragedy.”
Jackson’s bronze is her fourth Olympic medal, following silvers in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing (2008).
Lagat, who starred for the Cougars in the late 1990s and won silver and bronze 1,500-meter medals in 2004 and 2000, missed capturing a third medal by .63 of a second. Lagat clocked 13:42.99 in the men’s 5,000-meter final to the 13:42.36 posted by Kenya’s Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa. Mohamed Farah of Great Britain, cheered on by a humongous London throng, won in 13:41.66 and Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia the silver in 13:41.98.
“The (British) crowd helped him,” Lagat said of the 80,000 fans who rooted for Farah. “He ran 100 percent and they added another 10 percent. So you had a guy running at 110 percent.”
Medals By Washingtonians at 2012 Olympic Games
(17 Medals — 5 Gold, 7 Silver, 5 Bronze)
|8/1||Nathan Adrian||Swim||100 free||Bremerton||Gold|
|8/4||Nathan Adrian||Swim||Med Relay||Bremerton||Gold|
|7/29||Nathan Adrian||Swim||4×100 relay||Bremerton||Silver|
|7/30||Marti Malloy||Judo||57 KG||Oak Harbor||Bronze|
|8/1||Megan Kalmoe||Rowing||Quad Sculls||UW||Bronze|
|8/1||Adrienne Martelli||Rowing||Quad Sculls||UW||Bronze|
*Represented Canada; ^Represented Australia