Five medalists live, work or train in Santa Clarita.Tuesday night, the Santa Clarita City Council took time to honor four of the five Santa Clarita locals that participated and earned medals in the Beijing Olympics.
Crystl Bustos, David Neville, Alyson Felix and Kim Rhode were each recognized for their accomplishments by the City Council, Congressman Buck McKeon, and representatives from Assemblyman Cameron Smyth’s office, Senator George Runner’s office and LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. Mike Day, a silver medalist in the BMX competition, was unable to attend.
“To be honest, it’s an honor just to be here to meet you and shake your hand,” said Congressman McKeon.
Crystl Bustos played softball in Santa Clarita at Canyon High School. Since her graduation, she has played in three Olympic Games (2000, 2004 and 2008) earning a two gold medals for Team USA and one silver medal.
The silver medal came in a shocking 1-0 defeat against Japan in the final Beijing game. Prior to that, team USA had been undefeated in the 2008 games. Bustos recalled her feelings after that loss.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” she said. “We’re competitors, and for us to be okay with that would not be alright. For us to come up a little short was hard, but we gave it everything we got and we just got beat.”
While the final Olympic game may have not gone her way, Bustos has plenty of memories of Olympic victory, as evidenced by team USA’s miraculous come from behind wins in the 2000 Sydney games.
“Everyone was rooting against us, we had lost three games, and then came back and won it,” she said. “Basically, we did exactly what Japan did to us this year.”
She admits that the Sydney games were her favorite to compete in.
In talking about her return to Santa Clarita, Bustos says that she’s had a chance to interact with youth.
“It’s great to see the kids and be able to put the medals on them. I try and share them with as many people as possible.”
Allyson Felix grew up in Santa Clarita and still lives here to this day. In Beijing, she earned a silver medal in the women’s 200 meter run, and a gold medal in the women’s 400 meter relay.
Allyson had fond memories of some of the lessons she learned while training in SCV.
“I think the main thing was just to keep your priorities straight,” she told KHTS. “I think its great to give your all in sports but it has to be balanced with academics as well.”
Once in Beijing, she was in awe of her surroundings.
“You have this joy, of just the Olympic experience, and overall I’m just grateful for it.”
David Neville moved to the SCV just over a year ago, because he felt it was the best place to train as an athlete. He took home a bronze medal in the men’s 400 meter run, and a gold medal in the men’s 400 meter relay.
Neville told KHTS that the feeling of the Beijing Olympics was different than anything he’d ever been involved with.
“Being in the bird’s nest was a great experience. I had never competed in an arena that big,” he said.
Kim Rhode trains as a skeet shooter at Oak Tree Gun Club, located just off the I-5 in Santa Clarita. She won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Skeet shooting may not be the most well known sport in the Olympics, but the training has Kim working in Santa Clarita full time.
“It’s basically where you get clay discs thrown about 75 miles per hour,” she said. “The two targets cross in front of you, one or two at a time.”
Three of the four athletes KHTS interviewed have high hopes of competing in the 2012 Games in London. Chrystl Bustos will not have that opportunity, as softball will no longer be classified as an Olympic sport.
One thing is for certain, the feats they have already accomplished put them in a league of their own.
KHTS' Mike Dowler interviewed the Olympians, and to hear a quick audio cut of the interviews, click below.