Let the games begin: 22 athletes with East Valley ties as Olympics get underway - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Let the games begin: 22 athletes with East Valley ties as Olympics get underway

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Posted: Friday, July 27, 2012 10:47 am | Updated: 8:31 am, Tue Jul 31, 2012.

Mesa native Breeja Larson certainly turned heads last month when she won the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“I never heard of her before. Ever.” That’s what world record holder Jessica Hardy had to say after Larson darted past the field to earn her first Olympic invite.

Much of the world tuning in to tonight’s 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony likely won’t know Larson’s name, either. But they’ll have their chance to get more acquainted with the Mountain View High School product and national college champion — and the more than 60 athletes or coaches with Arizona ties, including nearly two dozen with East Valley connections — over the next 16 days of competition.

Former Mountain Pointe High School track star Will Claye also has the chance to become a household name, as does weightlifter Sarah Robles of Mesa — considered by many the strongest woman in the United States.

“Five years ago, if you told me I was going to the Olympics,” she said recently, “I would have told you that you were crazy.”

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