The 2012 London Olympics has come to a close and the United States finds itself in a familiar situation.
The USA dominated the Olympics with a medal count of 104 including 46 of the golden variety. From fencing to volleyball, and soccer to gymnastics, Irish Americans have made significant contributions to the 2012 historic American Olympic team.
Here’s my pick of the top Irish American competitors from the 2012 London Olympics:
1. McKayla Maroney, Gymnastics, gold (Women's team final) silver (Women's vault final)
A key member of the famed Fab Five woman’s gymnastic squad featuring Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber, Maroney's superb vault prowess helped her country land gold and silver medals.
2. Misty May Treanor, Beach Volleyball, gold
Widely considered to be the best Women’s beach volleyball player of all time, the diminutive striker added a third gold medal in London to her legendary status with the help of fellow Irishwoman Kerry Walsh Jennings.
3. Kerri Walsh Jennings, Beach Volleyball, gold
The Robin to Misty Yay-Treanor’s Batman the slim and slender volleyballer also goes down in history as one of the best to dig a ball in the sand capturing a third straight gold medal. Her other two recent accomplishments include her children Joseph and Sundance.
4. Claire Donahue, Swimming, gold (Women’s 4X100 medley)
Lenoir City, Tennessee’s pride and joy secured a gold medal as a member of the record setting Women’s 4X100 medley swimming the butterfly leg of the preliminary heat. The proud Western Kentucky University alum to represent her country in the Olympics.
5. Kelley O'Hara, Soccer, gold
The Jacksonville Florida native starred as a fullback on the 2012 gold medal-winning squad. She received the Hermann trophy in 2009 for being the country’s top college player at Stanford.
6. Heather O'Reilly, Soccer, gold
O’Reilly provided Alex Morgan with a game-winning cross in an important test this summer over Canada. This New Jersey girl is a previous two-time gold medal winner and is credited with the fastest goal scored in an Olympics. (40 seconds against New Zealand in Beijing 2008)
7. Lindsay Whalen, Basketball, gold
In London the veteran guard earned her first gold medal on the first woman’s team to have won 5 straight gold medals in any Olympic event. The gold(medal-winning)en Gopher led Minnesota to three straight NCAA basketball titles including its first final four.
8. Kelly Hurley, Fencing (Eppee team), bronze
This two-time Olympian and Notre Dame graduate secured a bronze medal against Russia in London. Hurley was one of five fencers representing Notre Dame this summer including Mariel Zagunis and Gerek Meinhardt.
9. Courtney Hurley, Fencing (Epee team), bronze
The younger sister of Kelley fenced alongside her sister to a medal. The current Notre Dame student is trained with her sister by her parents, Bob and Tracey, at Team Hurley Fencing Club in San Antonio Texas.
10. Natalie Coughlin, Swimming, bronze (Women’s 4X100 Freestyle Relay)
The Olympic veteran is the first US women’s swimmer to win six medals in a single games (Beijing 2008).
Her medal this year pushes her career total to 12 tying fellow swimmers Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated female swimmers of all-time. Coughlin is also no slouch on the dance floor either having competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009.
I am certain Irish Americans will continue to propel the US Olympic team to further excellence and success at the next games in Rio de Janeiro slated for 2016 and future Olympiads to come.