With the 2016 Summer Olympics getting underway in Rio de Janeiro, what better time is there to remember those with connections to San Luis Obispo County who won glory in past games? Here are eight local Olympic medalists (Summer Games):
Stephanie Brown Trafton
Arroyo Grande native and Cal Poly alum Stephanie Brown Trafton won the gold medal in the discus in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “I came to the Bird’s Nest to lay a golden egg, and that’s what I did,” she said after winning the medal.
The three-time Olympian is only the second American woman to win the discus (Lillian Copeland won the first in 1932). “One of my fondest memories is right after winning the competition, the victory lap when I held the American flag and ran around the track,” she told The Tribune in 2008.
She also competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2012 Olympics in London and narrowly missed qualifying for Rio. (Associated Press photo)
At the age of 15, Sharon Stouder won four medals — three gold — in swimming at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. She won gold in the 100-meter butterfly and was part of the winning 4x100-meter freestyle relay and 4x100-meter medley relay. She won silver in the 100-meter freestyle, an event in which she was just the second woman to record a time of under 1 minute. “When you are standing on the awards stand, and they are playing (the U.S.) anthem, it is overwhelming. For years (after), when I hear the anthem, I get the same feeling. It imprints on you,” she told The Tribune in 2004.
The former Grover Beach resident was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1972 and died in 2013 at 64. (Tribune file photo)
Mary Rand Reese
One of England’s top female athletes, she competed under the name Mary Rand and was the first British woman to win a gold medal in track and field when she won the long jump competition in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, setting a world record. She also won silver in the pentathlon and helped the sprint relay team win a bronze medal. She has lived in Atascadero for the past 20 years. She is still the only British female athlete to win three medals in a single Olympics. “The medal ceremony is something when you see your flag and hear your anthem. You want to do it again tomorrow because you are so in awe, so emotional,” she told The Tribune in 2004. (Tribune file photo)
Cal Poly graduate Karen Kraft (pictured left) teamed up with Missy Schwen to medal in two separate Olympics in the rowing event coxless pairs. The duo won silver in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, then took bronze in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Kraft began rowing as a junior at Cal Poly in 1990, according to a story on sfgate.com, delaying her work on a degree in architecture. “My passion for rowing far outweighed my passion for architecture,” she said in the 1999 story. (Associated Press photo)
A graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, where he was an All-CIF water polo player twice, Jeff Powers helped the men’s water polo team win a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “It just feels like we’re on the cusp of something really, really big,” he told the Orange County Register before the medal round in 2008.
He scored six goals for Team USA that summer. He’s a three-time Olympian, having played with the team in the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2012 Games in London. (Associated Press photo).
A graduate of Cal Poly, Gina Miles won a silver medal in the equestrian sport of individual eventing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The San Francisco native rode McKinlaigh, owned by Thom Schulz and Laura Coats. Eventing is an all-around competition that combines elements of dressage, cross country and jumping. “This is the reward for a lifetime of hard work,” she told the U.S. Equestrian Federation after the event. (Associated Press photo)
A native of Santa Barbara, Todd Rogers is now the beach volleyball coach at Cal Poly. He is a two-time Olympian, winning gold in beach volleyball with his partner Phil Dalhuasser at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The pair returned in 2012 at the London Olympics but were knocked out in the round of 16 and did not medal. (Associated Press photo)
A former Alabama standout who now lives in Atascadero and helps train pole vaulters, Johnson won the bronze medal in the pole vault in the Munich Olympics in 1972. He is a National Pole Vault Hall of Fame member. “The Olympics is just a business. It’s a business of making money just like any other business. I don’t need that. But I’m glad I got there. I’m glad it was fun,” he told The Tribune last month. (Tribune file photo)