The U.S. is sending more than 500 Americans to Rio de Janeiro. But it’s tough to watch everyone, and narrowing things by geographic loyalty makes the Olympics seem a lot more manageable. Of the 500 Americans, 29 are from the District and its adjoining states — from serious superstars like Michael Phelps to hardly-household-names in sports like shooting and indoor volleyball.
Here are the locals you should really watch in Rio this month:
Katie Ledecky, the 19-year-old swimming phenom from Bethesda, already has a gold medal from her 800m freestyle victory in London in 2012. In Rio, she’ll be competing in the 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, and 4x200m freestyle.
At 21 years old, Rockville native Jack Conger will be competing with fellow US swimmer — and 11-time Olympic medalist — Ryan Lochte in the 4x200m freestyle.
Michael Phelps isn’t exactly from the DC area–he’s a native of Baltimore–but that’s close enough for the purposes of this list. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps will be looking to pad his legacy in Rio, his fifth Olympics, by competing in the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, and the 200m individual medley.
Chase Kalisz of Bel Air, Maryland, who has become close friends with Phelps, will be swimming in the 400m individual medley.
19-year-old Townley Haas will be competing in the 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle. Though he normally competes for University of Texas, Haas is a native of Richmond.
Track and Field
Francena McCorory of Hampton, Virginia, won gold in the 2012 London Olympics in the 4x400m relay, a feat she and her teammates will be looking to repeat in Rio.
LaShawn Merritt of Portsmouth, Virginia, will be competing in the 200-meter, the 400-meter, and the 4×400-meter races.
Byron Robinson, a 21-year-old native of Chesapeake, Virginia, will be flying over hurdles in the 400-meter race.
David Verburg grew up in Lynchburg and will compete in the 400-meter, 4×400-meter races. Here’s Verburg on the world record-breaking 400mx4 relay team at the 2014 IAAF Indoor Track and Field Championship:
Matthew Centrowitz, who was born in Beltsville and grew up in Arnold, Maryland, will look to beat his 4th-place London finish in the 1,500-meter. Here’s Centrowitz at the 2012 Olympic Trials:
Kevin Durant may have made many Wizards fans weep this offseason, but he’ll have the whole DMV behind him when he heads to Rio on Friday. The 6’9″, 230-pound guard was born in Suitland and attended Montrose Christian School in Rockville. Here are some highlights from Durant’s 41-point game this playoff season:
Baltimore native Angel McCoughtry, star of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, was a member of the gold medal-winning 2012 London women’s squad, and she and her teammates are heavily favored to win again this year (they’re also staying on a cruise ship instead of in dorms). Here are her 2015 MBA highlights:
Helen Maroulis of Rocky Point, Maryland, is a reigning gold medalist from the last World Wrestling Championships. In Rio, the 25-year-old will compete in the 53kg freestyle.
Hailing from Woodbine, Maryland, 20-year-old Kyle Snyder is undefeated in the top three high school wrestling championships. At his first Olympics, he will compete in the freestyle at 97kg. Here he is at the trials:
Outside hitter Aaron Russell, from Ellicott City, was the leading scorer on the US team during their qualifying games for Rio. Here are his highlights from those games:
Another outside hitter, Reid Priddy hails from Richmond. He’s headed to his fourth Olympics and helped the US win gold back in 2008.
Lucas Kozeniesky of Fairfax started shooting in 2009, when he was 14. The 21-year-old is now one of 20 shooters the US is sending to Rio.
19-year-old Ginny Thrasher of Springfield is the youngest American shooter headed to Rio. Here she is after winning the individual NCAA Smallbore Championship:
Ukraine-born, Arlington-bred Denis Kudla will be competing in singles in Rio. Here are highlights from Kudla’s games at the 2016 Citi Open at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in DC:
Katharine Holmes, a District native, was first introduced to her sport at Chevy Chase Fencing Club. Now she’s ranked as the number 22 fencer in the world–and majored in neuroscience at Princeton to boot. Here’s Holmes facing off in the 2015 US Fencing July Challenge:
20-year-old Gary Antuanne Russell comes from a family of athletes based in Capitol Heights–his older brother, also named Gary, went to Beijing in 2008 but collapsed and couldn’t compete. Here’s the younger Russell, a light welterweight, facing off during the Olympic trials:
19-year-old bantamweight Shakur Stevenson may have grown up in Newark, New Jersey, but his DMV cred is high: he trains at the Alexandria Boxing Club, and lives with his coach in Fairfax. There’s a lot of buzz around Shakur as he heads south, and he’s been called “USA boxing’s best hope in Rio.” Here’s a video about Shakur’s comet-like rise:
Joe Morris is from Annapolis–and, surprise, he’s a sailor! Morris specializes in 2-person high performance skiffs, and here he is with his teammate Thomas Barrows (right) right after they qualified for Rio:
Ashley Nee hails from Darnestown, Maryland, and will be competing in the canoe slalom. Here’s a clip of the 2012 Olympic trials, where you can see Nee doing her thing at 1:17.
Hampstead native Katie Zaferes will be running, biking, and swimming (presumably with a closed mouth, to keep out Rio’s poop-water). Here she is winning silver at the ITU Women’s World Triathlon Series:
Carmen Farmer, from Richmond, started playing rugby only four years ago after a conversation with a friend while hiking Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s now part of the first American women’s rugby team ever to head to the Olympics. Here’s a featurette on the team with an interview with Farmer at 1:28.
Defense star Stefanie Fee of Virginia Beach will be one of 16 American female players headed to Rio. Here’s a short clip on the team:
Lauren Kieffer of Middleburg will be competing in “eventing” — a single horse and rider competition across the disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Here’s Kieffer doing some jumps with Veronica, the same mare she’ll be riding in Rio:
Ali Krieger, a defender from Dumfries, Virginia, has entered Rio along with her team as a hot favorite for gold. In a match yesterday, Krieger and her team beat New Zealand, to the backdrop of “Zika, Zika!” chants from the Brazilian crowd. Here’s a featurette on the team:
Springfield native Matt Miller will represent the US as one of 41 American rowers in Rio. Here’s a featurette on Miller’s road to the Olympics: