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Aug. 13, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A total of five Penn State alums earned medals at this year's Olympic Games, held in London. A school-record 17 Penn Staters represented their school and countries. The 2012 Nittany Lion contingent consisted of competitors from seven sports, including both male and female competitors in fencing, track & field and volleyball.
Former Nittany Lions Megan Hodge and Christa Harmotto were part of the silver medal women's volleyball team, who lost in the gold medal match to Brazil, 3-1. Overall, Team U.S.A. posted a 7-1 record in the Olympic tournament. In the gold medal match against Brazil on Aug. 11, Hodge recorded six points on four kills, to go along with one block and one ace. Early in the tournament against China (8/1), Hodge had 18 kills and 15 excellent receptions on 18 attempts. Harmotto recorded three kills and one block for four points against Brazil in the gold medal match. In the semifinals against Korea, she tallied five points on three kills and two blocks. Nicole Fawcett and Alisha Glass were alternates for the team.
In women's soccer, alums Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato earned bronze medals as Canada defeated France by a score of 1-0 in Coventry, England last Thursday in the Bronze Medal Match. The 29-year old McLeod started in goal for the Canadians while Moscato was a starting defender. McLeod made four saves in the bronze medal match. The two traveled approximately 100 miles to Wembley Stadium following the match to pick up their bronze medals following the Gold Medal Match between Japan and the United States. In six matches played, Canada allowed eight goals.
Natalie Dell, a 2007 graduate and member of the club-level Penn State rowing squad, competed in the women's quadruple sculls, where she and Team U.S.A. earned a bronze medal. Dell has had a successful rowing career, as she won bronze in the quadruple sculls at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup II and silver in the same event at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.
On the men's volleyball side, Matt Anderson helped Team U.S.A. win Pool B and advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinal match against Italy on Aug. 8, Anderson recorded seven kills. Other highlight matches for him came against Russia (8/4), recording and 18 points on 16 kills, an ace and a block, and Serbia (7/29), where he tallied 18 points on 16 kills and two blocks.
Former Nittany Lion Shana Cox led off a sensational effort for Great Britain in the 4x400 relay final on Aug. 11, helping her squad to a fifth-place finish in the final, via a season-best 3:24.76. Cox - the 2008 NCAA Champion in the 400-meters and 4x400 - had a stellar Olympic campaign overall, also competing in the open 400, where she qualified for the semi-final round. Cox was one of three Nittany Lion representatives in the sprints during the Games, as rising junior Kirsten Nieuwendam (Parimaribo, Suriname) competed for Suriname in the 200-meters, and 2008 graduate Dominique Blake was in London as a member of the Jamaican 4x400 relay pool.
Also competing during the Games was 2010 NCAA Champion Bridget Franek, who became the first Nittany Lion woman to make an individual track and field event final, qualified for the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Franek, who was competing for the United States, finished 14th in the final. Volunteer Assistant Ryan Whiting, who was also on the U.S. roster, qualified for the final in the men's shot put, placing ninth.
For men's gymnastics, Penn State had two representatives. Former Nittany Lion Tommy Ramos represented Puerto Rico and placed sixth in the rings, posting a final score of 15.600. Felix Arnovich represented Israel and competed in the all-around. His best finish came in the pommel horse, posting a score of 13.433.
In fencing, Senior Miles Chamley-Watson qualified for the third spot on the U.S. Men's Foil Team. In the individual foil, he made it to the round of 32. In the team foil event, the three-time All-American Chamley-Watson helped Team U.S.A. reach the bronze medal match. Senior Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi represented Mexico and had a stellar 2012 Olympics, reaching the round of 32 for the men's individual foil. Four-time All-American and two-time national champion Doris Willette helped Team U.S.A. reach the quarterfinals of the women's team foil.
Cyclist Bobby Lea, a 2006 graduate, placed 12th in the men's omnium at this summer's games. Lea made his second Olympics this summer after competing in Beijing in 2008. Lea won 30 collegiate national titles as a part of the Penn State Cycling Team before turning pro after graduation.
Not including the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, where 65 countries did not participate, Penn State has sent athletes to each Olympic Games since 1948, a streak of 16-consecutive Games. Nittany Lion athletes also competed at the 1908 and 1948 Games in London. Walter Bahr, Penn State's men's soccer coach from 1974-87, was one of nine competitors from the school at the 1948 Games. In all, Penn State competitors have won 28 medals, including five gold-medal efforts, from 93 Olympians.