News & Politics

Best of Washington: Homegrown Olympic Hopefuls

Keep an eye out for Gary Russell Jr. The 19-year-old bantamweight boxer from Capitol Heights is one of Washington’s best bets for an Olympic medal in Beijing.

Russell, who finished third in the 2005 world championships, is the youngest member of the national team. Coached by his father, he trained until recently alongside three brothers in the family’s basement. Until the games, Russell will be living at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, focusing on bringing home gold. “Preparation is the key,” he says, “and I’ve been preparing.”

Other locals to watch: Kate Ziegler, the 19-year-old distance-swimming phenom from Great Falls, already holds five US records. She and Towson’s Katie Hoff are part of a new generation of swimmers expected to medal in Beijing and make America’s women’s team the most dominant in the world.

And Reston’s Alan Webb, the teenager who stunned the track world in 2001 by shattering Jim Ryun’s 36-year-old high-school record, has a shot at winning the 1,500-meter race—a feat no American has accomplished since 1908. Webb, who turned pro but still trains with his high-school coach, Scott Raczko, broke the American record for the mile in July with a time of 3:46.91.