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Here are 12 of Arizona's most famous Olympians - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Here are 12 of Arizona's most famous Olympians

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Source: 12 News Source: 12 News

We know, we know. Arizona is known for a climate that's not very conducive to Winter Olympics success.

But between northern Arizona's chilly climate and the advent of ice rinks, the Grand Canyon State has a few connections to the Winter Games. In fact, there are three Olympians from Arizona competing in PyeongChang.

When you broaden the scope to the Summer Games, though, you find some of the most recognizable names in Team USA's history.

Here are just a few of the big-name athletes who have connections to our state:

1. Michael Phelps

While Phelps is from Baltimore, the Valley is now his home.

He and his wife Nicole live in Paradise Valley with baby boy Boomer, and he's helped out with Arizona State's swimming program (and the Curtain of Distraction, a top-ranked fan distraction program nationally).

Phelps' Olympic credentials are literally unparalleled. His 28 total medals and 23 gold medals are the most of any Olympian in history.

He competed in five Olympic Games, winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

2. Kerri Strug

Strug is the author of one of the most iconic moments in American Olympic history: Her vault performance in Atlanta 1996.

She stuck the landing on her vault, securing the gold medal for Team USA despite an ankle injury.

3. Jesse Owens

Owens is one of the best-known Olympians in American history, famous for his defiant victory in the 1936 Berlin Games.

Owens won four gold medals in Adolf Hitler's own country, proving that Hitler's white supremacist ideas were unfounded.

He won the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400-meter relay and long jump gold medals. The U.S. won 11 total gold medals in Berlin, six of which were earned by black athletes.

Owens was born and raised in Alabama but he died in Tucson.

4. Misty Hyman

Hyman shocked the swimming world at the Sydney Olympics when she won the 200-meter butterfly.

Australian Susie O'Neill was widely expected to win the event in her home country, but the Mesa native took home gold instead, cementing her place among Arizona Olympians.

5. Gary Hall Sr.

Hall represented the U.S. in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, winning silver in the 400-meter individual medley. He then won silver in the 200-meter butterfly at the 1972 Munich Games.

Finally, Hall won bronze at the 1976 Montreal Games in the 100-meter butterfly.

He moved to Phoenix and opened an optometry center.

6. Amy Van Dyken

Van Dyken took over the 1996 Olympics, becoming the first American woman to win four gold medals in at one Olympic Games.

She took home first place in the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly, and 4x100 relays of both the medley and the freestyle.

She went to the University of Arizona for part of her college career and retired to the Phoenix area, where she started her talk radio career.

In 2014, Van Dyken was paralyzed from the waist down in an ATV accident.

7. Michele Mitchell

Mitchell took home two silver medals in the 1980s for diving.

The Phoenix native was an All-American at U of A, where she's in the school's sports hall of fame. She's also in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Mitchell won silver in the 10-meter platform at both the Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) games.

8. Amanda Borden

Borden was also in the Magnificent Seven, the USA's 1996 gold-medal women's gymnastics team, captaining the group.

She competed in floor exercise and balance beam, helping Team USA finish first.

After the Olympics, she attended and graduated from Arizona State University.

9. Gary Hall Jr.

Hall was raised in the Phoenix area by his father, also an Olympic swimmer.

In 1996, he won two silver (50m and 100m freestyle) and two gold medals in the 4x100 medley and freestyle relays.

He medaled in all the same events at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, taking home gold in the 50m freestyle and the medley relay.

Finally in 2004, he won gold again in the 50-meter freestyle and was part of the bronze-medal team in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

10. Henry Cejudo

A former Arizona high school wrestling champion, Cejudo competed in the 55 kilogram weight class at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He took home the gold medal after winning four matches.

11. Michael Carbajal

Carbajal fought in the light flyweight division at Seoul in 1988.

The Phoenix native won his first four matches before ultimately losing to Ivailo Marinov from Bulgaria in the gold medal match.

Still, Carbajal took home the silver medal.

In his professional career, he won the 1986 Golden Gloves in the light flyweight class and finished witha 49-4 record (33 KO).

12. Allison Schmitt

Schmitt made her first Olympic appearance in Beijing2008, when she led off the Team USA's bronze-medal 4x200 freestyle relay team.

2012 was Schmitt's year, though -- she won three gold medals (200m free, 4x200 free relay and 4x100 medley relay), one silver (400m freestyle) and a bronze (4x100m freestyle relay).

Schmitt later came to Arizona to train at ASU.

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