COLUMBUS — The smallest is 4-foot-11 Katie Bell, a diver from Columbus who competed for Ohio State. The heaviest is 340-pound weight-lifter Holley Mangold from the Dayton area, who happens to be the little sister of an NFL offensive lineman. The most recognizable is LeBron James, who hails from Akron but famously took his NBA talent to a warmer climate.
Seventeen competitors who list Ohio hometowns are included in the list of 530 Olympic athletes announced this week by the U.S. Olympic Committee. They'll compete in the London games from July 27 through Aug. 12. There are wrestlers, rowers, boxers and an archer. All but two are in their 20s.
The oldest of the Ohioans is 34-year-old soccer player Heather Mitts from Cincinnati. The defender is going for her third consecutive gold medal with the U.S. women's team. The youngest is 21-year-old Erik Kynard, a collegiate high-jumper from Toledo who will be competing in his first Olympics.
James, whose popularity in the Buckeye State turned to derision when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010, is trying to win a second consecutive gold medal with the U.S. men's hoops team. Also from northeastern Ohio, Westlake rower Margot Shumway — the second-oldest Ohioan at 32 — is competing in her second Olympics, and 24-year-old middleweight boxer Terrell Gausha, a Clevelander, is a first-timer.
“All the pressure I endured and hard work that I put in has paid off, and God is great,” Gausha said after qualifying for the games. “Dreams really do come true.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler Justin (Harry) Lester of Akron is one of 13 active-duty military members on the U.S. Olympic team. Jacob Wukie, 26, from Oak Harbor near Toledo, will compete in archery.
One of the most fascinating stories of the London games is Mangold. She's 5-foot-8, weighs 340 and will compete in the super-heavyweight division for the U.S. weight-lifting team. She qualified for the games by winning the clean-and-jerk competition (319 pounds) and finishing second in the two-hand snatch event with a 242-pound lift.
Mangold, who played prep football with the boys for Alter High School in Kettering, is the younger sister of New York Jets center and former Ohio State star Nick Mangold, who won't get to see his sister compete in person because he has to be at training camp.
Holley Mangold, who calls herself a “girly girl” who just happens to compete in a man's sport, is also known for appearing in an episode of MTV's “True Life” titled “I'm the Big Girl.”
“When you get a good lift, the bar is literally weightless off of your body and then you don't feel it until it hits over your head again,” she told The Associated Press recently. “You get that lift maybe one in a 100, but if you get that lift, you're chasing that lift for the rest of your life. It's kind of amazing. I love it.”
Tianna Madison, a 2003 graduate of Elyria High School and local track phenom, will compete in the 100-meter run and 4×100 relay.
The diminutive Bell, 24, is joining her friend and fellow Columbus native Abby Johnston on the 11-member U.S. diving squad.
“I'm going to go and give it my all,” Bell told The Columbus Dispatch after qualifying last month. “I want a medal. I'm going to dive just the way I've been in practice and hope for the best.”
The USOC lists at least seven more Olympians who were born in Ohio but claim hometowns in other states.
Women outnumber men on the U.S. Olympic team for the first time (269 to 261). The USOC says 302 medal events will play out in London, with Americans competing in 246 of them in 25 sports. There are 228 returning Olympians, including seven five-timers, with 124 of them previously winning medals.
California is the leader in producing Olympians this time, with 128 athletes coming from that state. New York and Pennsylvania tied for second with 35 each.