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Follow Local Olympians in London

Learn more about the 13 East Bay–raised athletes we have competing in the games, and follow their progress as they go for gold.


Photo from london2012.com

We’re all four years older, but we may be four times as excited about this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London, which kick off on July 27. Of the 530 select individuals representing the States, 13 were raised in the East Bay, giving us extra reason to cheer on our country and show a little local pride. It seems our neck of the woods grooms aquatic athletes (all but one of our Olympians are competing in or around the water), and that the trials favored the ladies this year (there are twice as many girls as guys representing the East Bay).

Women outnumbering the men isn’t just a local trend. For the first time in Olympic history, there will be more women than men competing on the U.S. team, but all will be equally stylish, outfitted by the American designer Ralph Lauren in crisp collars and sleek lines for the opening ceremonies.

Before you splurge on a cherry red polo, consider salvaging the stars and stripes from your Fourth of July outfit to represent Team USA in downtown Livermore. Starting at 8 p.m., the Vine Cinema and Alehouse is hosting an opening ceremony celebration.  For $5, you can grab a pint of ale and a basket of fish and chips from Zephyr Grill and Bar. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Kate and Prince Harry look-alikes are welcome. —Amelia Arvesen

Follow us on Twitter at @diablomagazine and on Facebook for breaking updates as our East Bay athletes compete in the Games.


Recent Updates



Natalie Coughlin

4x100 freestyle relay
-Didn’t swim but team earned Bronze


Kristian Ipsen

Men’s synchronized 3m springboard
- Bronze

Sychronized Swimming

Mariya Koroleva

-Duet-Technical Routine—10th
-Duet- Free Routine—11th
-Duet- Free Routine Final—11th


Anthony Fahden

Men’s Lightweight Four
-Heats – 5th place
-Repechange – 1st place
-Semifinals – 5th place
-Finals—2nd in heat, 6th overall

Scott Gault

Men’s Four
-Heats – 1st place
-Semifinals—1st place
-Finals—3rd place for Bronze



Kara Kohler

Women’s Quadruple Sculls
-Heats – 2nd place
-Repechange – 2nd place
-Finals—3rd place for Bronze

Julie Nichols

Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls
-Heats – 3rd place
-Repechange – 1st place
-Semifinals—4th place
-Finals—5th in heat, 11th overall


Water Polo

Peter Varellas

Men’s Team
Preliminary Rounds on July 29, Montenegro 7 – 8 US, July 31, US 10 – 8 Romania
-August 2, Great Britain 7–13 USA, August 4, Serbia 11–6 USA, August 6, Hungary 11–6 USA
Watch August 13 v. Croatia at 12:00 pm in Quarterfinals

Watch August 2 v. Great Britain at 10:20 a.m., August 4 v. Serbia at 11:40 a.m.

Heather Petri, Jessica Steffens, Maggie Steffens, Melissa Seidmann

Women’s Team
-Preliminary Rounds on July 30, Hungary 13 – 14 US
-Maggie Steffens tied Olympic record with seven goals v. Hungary
-Semifinals USA 11-9 Australia

Watch August 10 v. Spain 12:00 pm as they battle for gold


Doris Willette

Women’s Team Foil
-In quarterfinals, US lost to South Korea 45–31 to finish 6th.


Recent Tweets (8/8):

@ScottHGault: Thank you to everyone who inspired, believed, and most importantly supported me through the journey!!!

@PVarellas: Sundown on another day at the Olympics

@MKoroleva: Can't believe I was just on BBC World News live! So freaking cool.

@maggiesteffens: One more game. excited for the last battle vs Spain... Gold on the line

@PetelsAGirl: I am not supposed to be getting my heart rate up ladies!! Gotta go to bed! GET IT LADIES!!!

@KristianIpsen: I just watched you! Great job! If I tried synchro I think I would drown.

And they blog! You can follow Mariya and the men and women's rowing teams, in their own words:
Mariya Koroleva




Natalie Coughlin

Eleven-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, 29, is no stranger to the Olympic spotlight: It’s Coughlin’s third time at the Olympics, and she needs just one more medal to tie with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for the most for an American female Olympian. The Lafayette native and Cal grad will represent USA swimming in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay at this summer’s Games, alongside up-and-comers Missy Franklin (17) and Allison Schmitt (22), both of whom are also on the relay team.

Event: Women’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay

Olympic history:

2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medalist, Silver Medalist, Bronze Medalist

2004 Athens Olympic Gold, Silver, Bronze

Overall: three gold, four silver, four bronze

Career highlights:

First swimmer to qualify for Summer Nationals in all 14 events at age 15.

Broke national high school records in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke.

In Beijing, she became the first modern female Olympic athlete to win six medals in one Olympics.

First woman to win the 100 backstroke in two consecutive Olympics.

First woman to swim the 100 backstroke in under a minute.

Teammates to watch: Allison Schmitt, Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Rebecca Soni

Biggest competition: The Netherlands, who dominated in Beijing, with compete with the same group of four swimmers that won gold at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships. The USA women’s team is strong, but will face competition from the Dutch, along with China and Australia.   

When to watch: Saturday, July 28 at 4:42 a.m. (qualification round), and 12:48 p.m. (finals).

In their words: “I did not see my swimming career lasting this long. Whatever happens in London is icing on the cake.”  —Jen Aceto



Kristian Ipsen

You may have spotted De La Salle grad Kristian Ipsen, 19, working at one of the Skipolini’s Pizza restaurants owned by his parents. The first-time Olympian was raised in Clayton and now attends Stanford, where he has been honing his diving skill in preparation for this year’s Games. Keep an eye out for Ipsen and his diving partner, Texan Troy Dumais—the pair won the synchronized three-meter competition at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Event: Men’s synchronized three-meter springboard

Olympic history: First-time Olympian

Career highlights

First Stanford diver to win an NCAA championship in 82 years (three-meter competition at National Diving Championships)

Sixteen-time junior national champion, eight-time senior national champion, three-time junior world champion.

2009 World Championships silver medalist (synchronized three-meter)

2010 World Cup silver medalist (synchronized three-meter)

Biggest competition: China’s Wang Feng and Qin Kai took gold in Beijing, beating out Russia and Ukraine. The Chinese duo won the 2009 Worlds, but in 2011 Qin won the title with a new partner. The U.S. should look out for the Chinese in London. 

Teammates to watch: Christopher Colwill, Troy Dumais, David Boudia 

When to watch Wednesday, August 1 at 7 a.m.

In their words: “My secret to success in the past year has come from more of a focus on my mental game. Diving is an extremely mental sport. All of the Olympic athletes that I will be competing against are going to be in great physical shape and will have their acrobatic skills mastered. However, I think the strongest competitors mentally will end up on the podium with a medal.”  —Jen Aceto



Synchronized Swimming

Mariya Koroleva
Follow her blog: http://mariyakoroleva.blogspot.co.uk

Russian-born Mariya Koroleva will be competing against her home country in this year’s Olympics, where the synchronized swimmer and her competition partner, Mary Killman, perform in the duet. The 22-year-old Las Lomas grad, who will complete her senior year at Stanford after the Games, moved from Russia to Walnut Creek with her family at age nine, but was not able to compete in Junior National Championships for her sport until she became a U.S. citizen in 2007. Koroleva’s Olympic future looks promising: She and Killman won gold at the Swiss Open on July 1, during their final competition before the London Games.     

Event: Duet

Olympic history: First time Olympian; will compete in duet with Mary Killman; 7th-place finish at qualifiers

Career highlights:

1st place in duet at Swiss Open (with Mary Killman)

4th place in duet at Spanish Open

2nd place in team and duet at 2011 Pan American Games

1st place in duet competition with partner Olivia Morgan at 2011 Collegiate Nationals

Biggest competition: In the Swiss Open, Kazakhstan finished second and Switzerland was third. Mexico and Hungary finished fourth and fifth.

When to watch: August 5, 6, and 7 at 7 a.m. (technical routine, free routine, and final free routine).

In their words: “In synchro, just a small mistake will cost you everything. You have to be on top of your mental game all the time. At the Olympics everything is magnified so much—it’s once every four years. And, for most athletes, it’s once in a lifetime.”  —Jen Aceto



Rowing—Men's Team

Anthony Fahden

During Fahden’s time at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, he quit his long-running hockey career and picked up rowing with Oakland Strokes in 2001. Since graduating Dartmouth College in 2008, Fahden has spent five years rowing for the national team. This past May, Fahden qualified for the London Games by winning the lightweight four at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Event: Men’s Lightweight Four

Olympic History: First-time Olympian

Career Highlights:

Won the lightweight four at the 2012 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta

Won silver in the lightweight eight at the 2009 World Rowing Championships

Won the lightweight eight at the 2011 Head of the Charles Regatta

Won gold in the lightweight eight at the 2009 USRowing National Championships

Teammates to watch: William Newell, Nick LaCava, and Robin Prendes, who are all new to the Olympics and will all be competing with Anthony in the Men’s Lightweight Four.

Biggest competition: Denmark, Poland, and Canada, who all placed at the Beijing Olympics, as well as Australia, who won the 2011 World Championships.

When to Watch: July 28 at 3 a.m. (heats), July 29 at 1:40 a.m. (repechage), July 31 at 4:40 p.m. (semifinals), and August 2 at 2 a.m. (finals).  —Maddie Godfrey


Scott Gault

Born, raised, and currently residing in Piedmont, Gault began rowing at Oakland Strokes his junior year at Piedmont High, only to continue on to row and graduate from University of Washington. In 2008, Gault finished fifth in quadruple sculls in the Beijing Olympic Games, and he qualified for the 2012 London Olympics during the 2011 World Rowing Championships this past May.

Event: Men’s Four

Olympic History: Placed fifth in Quadruple Sculls

Career highlights:

Won fifth in the Quadruple Sculls in the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Won the Quadruple Sculls at the 2008 Rowing World Cup stop in Lucerne

Won the pair at the 2011 National Selection Regatta #2

Biggest competition: Great Britain has won the Men’s Four for three consecutive years and also won gold at the 2011 World’s, with Greece and Australia closely behind.

Teammates to watch: Charlie Cole, Henrik Rummel, and Glenn Ochal, all who have never been to the Olympics, will compete with Gault in the Men’s Four 2012 Olympic boat

When to watch: July 30 at 2:40 a.m. (heats), July 31 at 2 a.m. (repechage), August 2 at 2:10 a.m. (semifinals), and August 4 at 2:30 a.m. (finals).

In their words: “My first race I lost my oar, catching a 'crab' three times and single handedly lost the race for the whole team. I don't know what kept me going, but rowing represents a pure sense of competition, which must have been what kept drawing me back.”  —Maddie Godfrey


Rowing—Women's Team

Kara Kohler

Though Kohler had never rowed before her first year at Cal, she proved to be a natural. After retiring from an extremely successful swimming career in Clayton and training for only three short years at Cal, Kohler is off to the Olympic Games to show everyone it’s never too late to pick up a new sport (and be good at it!).

Event: Women’s Quadruple Sculls

Career highlights:

Won gold in the four at the 2011 World Rowing Championships

Won gold in the eight at the 2011 Rowing World Cup stop in Lucerne

Won the Princess Grace Challenge Cup at the 2011 Henley Royal Regatta

Biggest competition: China won its first Olympic rowing gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games, though Germany is a strong force after a silver in Beijing and winning gold at last year’s World Championships.

Teammates to watch: Adrienne Martelli and Natalie Dell are also new to the Olympics, but teammate Megan Kalmoe finished fifth in the double sculls at the 2008 Beijing Games.

When to watch (Pacific time): July 28 at 1:50 a.m. (heats), July 30 at 1:40 a.m. (repechage), and August 01, 2:20 a.m. (finals).

In their words: “In rowing, I have discovered how rewarding working together (every stroke!) with your teammates can be. I have no doubt that competing in the Olympics will be the true test of our unity.”  —Maddie Godfrey


Julie Nichols

Now living and training in Oakland, Julie Nichols is no stranger to the Bay Area. After moving the short distance to Cal after graduating Livermore High School, Nichols began her career as a rower. Not only has Nichols found success in rowing, she received her Bachelors from Cal, her Masters in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA and is currently earning her PhD in Mechanical Engineering, also at UCLA.  For nine years, Nichols has managed to juggle scholarly pursuits while retaining her spot on the National Team.

Event: Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls

Olympic history: Served as an alternate on the 2008 Olympic Team

Career highlights:

Won the 2011 Overall Rowing World Cup in the lightweight double sculls

Was named US Rowing’s 2011 Athlete of the Year

Won the lightweight single sculls at the first 2005 and 2006 US Rowing National Selection

Biggest competition: Although there isn’t a single dominating force in the women’s lightweight double sculls race, Netherlands won gold in Beijing, followed by Finland and Canada, and Greece won gold at the 2011 World Rowing Championships, with Canada and Great Britain closely behind.

Teammates to watch: After five years rowing together on the National Team, Kristin Hedstrom is racing with Nichols in the lightweight double sculls race.

When to watch (Pacific time): July 29 at 2:40 a.m. (heats), July 31 at 2:10 a.m. (repechage), August 2 at 2:30 a.m. (semifinals), August 4 at 2 a.m. (finals).

In their words: “You have to be incredibly invested to take on the challenge of trying to do everything as well as possible and at the same time pushing the limits in training and making sure you are eating right and recovering properly.”  —Maddie Godfrey



Water Polo—Men's Team

Peter Varellas

Smart both in the water and on land, Peter Varellas, 27, of Moraga scored points in the pool, where he was honored as the Pac-10 Stanford Male Athlete of the Year, and in the classrooms at Stanford University, where he received a management science and engineering degree. As the only left-handed player returning to the Olympic team, Varellas hopes to add a different angle to scoring.

Olympic history: 2008 Beijing Olympic Silver Medalist

Career highlights:

assistant coach for the Stanford Men’s Water Polo program

1st place at 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico

Was honored as the 2005-06 Stanford Most Outstanding Male Senior

Pac-10 Stanford Male Athlete of the Year

Biggest competition: The last three gold medals have gone to Hungary

Teammates to watch: Tony Azevedo, Merrill Moses, Layne Beaubien

When to watch: Sun, July 29 at 11:40 a.m.

In their words: “Setting goals and constantly reevaluating those goals has been a strong theme for me throughout my Olympic career.  It's also important to have fun with anything you devote so much time to. Although it’s a cliché, it's true that the journey is more important than the destination.  If I had never made the Olympic Team, the entire process would still have been well worth it.”  —Amelia Arvesen




Water Polo—Women's Team

Heather Petri




Jessica Steffens





Maggie Steffens



Melissa Seidmann



With a bronze from 2000 and silver from 2004 draped around their necks, the women’s team is hoping to complete their collection with a gold medal at this year’s Olympic Games. The team is a mix of ages and both new and returning champions.

Olympic history:

Bronze medal in 2004

Silver medal in 2008

Biggest competition: Hungary

Players to watch: Although Orinda’s Heather Petri is the oldest player on the team at 34, she has the most experience with her three previous Games. Petri’s teammate in Beijing in 2008, Jessica Steffens of Danville, is also back for more with younger sister Maggie Steffens under her wing. Nineteen-year-old Maggie, the youngest on the team, graduated high school in 2011 and deferred her entrance to Stanford to train with the team. The other Stanford success is Walnut Creek’s Melissa Seidmann, who led her university in scoring, with 59 goals, as a freshman.

When to watch: July 30 at 11:40 a.m.  —Amelia Arvesen




Doris Willette

Fencing was one of the original events in the first modern Olympics in 1896, and Doris Willette is making her second appearance as the alternate for the women’s foil fencing team. The 24-year-old from Lafayette is ranked No. 22 in the world and is the oldest member on a team of Olympic newcomers looking to win a medal. The sport runs in the family for Willette, as her brother is an All-American Penn State foil fencer, just as she was. Foil fencing includes a thrusting weapon, and the torso is the target area in competition. Hits with the tip of the foil are recorded using wireless technology, and only one fencer can score a hit at a time. The results will be decided in a one-day single elimination tournament, and Willette is hoping for a chance to get in a few hits.

Event: Women’s foil team

Olympic history:

2008 Beijing Olympic women’s foil team alternate (U.S. won a silver medal)

Career highlights:

2011 and 2012 gold medal-winning Pan American Championship foil team member

Top-8 finish at the 2012 Marseille Foil Grand Prix

2007 All-American national champion

33-0 undefeated record in her freshman year at Penn State

2006 senior U.S. team member at the World Championships

Teammates to watch: Lee Kiefer, Nzingha Prescod, Nicole Ross

Biggest competition: Of the nine competing teams, Italy is poised as the team to beat with its current No. 1 world ranking. The US team is currently ranked sixth in the world and will also see some stiff competition from the French, Korean, and Russian teams. The US team won big in 2008 with a silver medal, but those members have since been replaced with some fairly young competitors.

When to watch Thursday, August 2 from 1–11:15 a.m. The competition starts with a round of 16, and teams get knocked out as the day goes on.  —Jenna Valdespino


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