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Minnesota's Olympic connections

07/25/2012, 9:03am CDT
By Rachel Blount, Star Tribune

Six with prep ties to the state will compete across four sports in London

Ali Bernard

Sport: Wrestling (women's 72-kilogram freestyle)
 
Tie: New Ulm
 
Twitter: @asbernard86
 
Competes: Aug. 9
 
Coming off her bronze-medal performance at last year's world championships, Bernard was favored to make her second Olympic team. She was upset by Stephany Lee at April's trials, but when Lee was suspended in June because of a positive drug test, Bernard was given the roster spot. A five-time collegiate national champion in Canada, Bernard, 26, finished fifth at the Beijing Olympics and was a gold medalist at the university world championships earlier this year.
 
Chas Betts
 
Sport: Wrestling (84-kilogram Greco-Roman)
 
Tie: St. Michael
 
Twitter: @chasbetts
 
Competes: Aug. 6
 
Betts, 26, defeated fellow Minnesotan Jordan Holm at the Olympic trials to become the latest wrestler from the state to qualify. A member of the Minnesota Storm club, Betts is based at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and has been part of the national team since 2009. The 2011 U.S. Open champion, he placed second at the Pan American Qualifier to earn the U.S. a place in the Olympic tournament at 84 kg and has been the gold medalist at two international tournaments in 2012.
 
Rachel Bootsma
 
Sport: Swimming (women's 100-meter backstroke)
 
Tie: Eden Prairie
 
Twitter: @r_bootsma15
 
Competes: Preliminaries and semifinals Sunday, finals Monday.
 
At the Olympic trials last month, Bootsma, 18, swam the fourth-fastest time in the world this year in the semifinals of the women's 100 backstroke. She then defeated Natalie Coughlin -- winner of the past two Olympic gold medals in the event -- in the finals to win a place on the team. Bootsma has been among the nation's best young swimmers since age 14 and was considered a top prospect for the 2016 Olympics. Instead, she will make her Summer Games debut less than two months after graduating from Eden Prairie High School.
 
Kara Goucher
 
Sport: Track and field (women's marathon)
 
Tie: Duluth

Twitter: @karagoucher
 
Competes: Aug. 5
 
The former Kara Wheeler found her stride at Duluth East High School, where she won multiple state cross-country championships. A 2008 Olympian in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Goucher, 33, has since stepped up--and excelled at the marathon distance. She finished third at the 2008 New York City Marathon in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 53 seconds, the fastest debut ever by an American woman. Now the mother of a 21-month-old son, Goucher placed third at the Olympic trials to earn her place in London.
 
Lindsay Whalen
 
Sport: Women's basketball
 
Ties: Hutchinson, Gophers
 
Twitter: @Lindsay_13
 
Compete: The tournament begins Saturday and ends Aug. 11
 
No WNBA team placed as many players on the U.S. team as the Lynx. Augustus, 28, returns to the Games after helping the team go 8-0 to win gold in Beijing. Whalen, 30, and Moore, 23, make their Olympic debuts; both were on the U.S. team that won the 2010 world championship. The U.S. has won the past four Olympic gold medals and is 50-3 overall in Olympic play.
 
Amanda Smock
 
Sport: Track and field (women's triple jump)
 
Tie: Melrose
 
Twitter: @AJTSMOCK
 
Competes: Qualification round, Aug. 3; finals, Aug. 5
 
Four years ago, Smock trained with Shani Marks of Apple Valley, helping her friend reach the Olympics in the triple jump. Smock continued pursuing her own Olympic dream and made the team for London by winning her event at last month's Olympic trials. A North Dakota State graduate who trains in Minneapolis, Smock, 29, won the 2011 U.S. outdoor title and the 2012 indoor title. She also competed in last year's world championships.

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