Santa Clarita Olympians Take Center Stage In Beijing
Three hometown heroes compete in track, cycling and softball.
Wednesday is a big day for Santa Clarita athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics, when sprinter Allyson Felix will run in her second semi-final for the 200 meter race, cyclist Mike Day takes to the track for a first-ever Olympic BMX race and Crystl Bustos plays in her next-to-last softball game, hopefully garnering her third gold medal.
Felix, who began running track in ninth grade and was a five-time California state prep champ, was the silver medalist the 200 meter at the Athens Olympics in 2004. The 22-year-old Felix just graduated from USC with a degree in elementary education and looks forward to working with children when her athletic career wanes.
Felix’s biggest competition in Beijing is Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, who edged her out of gold in Athens. During the second round qualifier Tuesday, Campbell-Brown and Felix finished 1-2 with respective scores of 22.64 and 22.74.
If she qualifies in the second semi-final Wednesday, she will compete for a medal in the 200 meter final on Thursday.
Valencia High graduate Mike Day started riding BMX when he was 9 years old, emulating his brother Dave, a competitive BMX racer. After graduation, Mike turned pro and is considered one of the United States’ top BMX riders.
This is the first time BMX racing has been included in the Olympics. BMX racers ride a circuit that includes an initial drop, followed by jumps, banked corners and other obstacles. Eight riders compete in each heat, with the top four qualifying for the next round.
To prepare for their China competition, Day and the other US team members worked out on a replica of the Beijing course built at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. At 6’3”, Day is the tallest competitor and credits his long legs for his speed and dexterity on the court, clocking the fastest time of any athlete working out on the practice track.
Day will be one of 32 riders in seeding trials on Wednesday, with finals – and possibly a gold medal – on Thursday.
Canyon High graduate Crystl Bustos will play in what could be the last Olympic softball game as part of the powerhouse United States women’s team that is virtually unbeatable. She is leading the team with a batting average of .563 and 10 runs scored; tying teammate Jessica Mendoza with four home runs.
Winning all seven preliminary games in this year’s competition (five of the victories were called under the International Softball Federation’s “run ahead” rule, better known to American fans as the “mercy” rule), the US squad looks likely to get its fourth gold medal (Bustos’ third, as she joined the team in 2000) after a semifinal game Wednesday against Japan, followed by the medal game on Thursday.
Bustos broke Olympic records in 2004 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. This year, she is
The US women have a record of 24-4 over the last three Olympics, including an undefeated 9-0 record at the 2004 Athens games. The team broke 16 records in 2004, including eight of their own. This year, they broke another record, this time it was runs scored with 53, two more than their record in Athens 2004.
This is the last year for softball competition in the Olympics, as the sport is being retired along with baseball.
KHTS will keep you posted on our local Olympians progress, so visit hometownstation.com for the latest in Beijing news.