Editors note: San Diego County is not actually a country competing in the Tokyo Olympics.
With seven total medals as of Monday evening, the county of San Diego in Southern California is currently in 21st place in the medal count at the Tokyo Olympics.
With three gold medals as well as two silvers and two bronze under its belt, tiny San Diego County (population 3.3 million) is running ahead of 57 of the world’s nations, including outsize competitors like India (pop. 1.17 billion; S: 1, B: 1), Indonesia (pop 267 million; G:1, S:1, B: 3) and our neighbor to the south, Mexico (pop. 129 million; B: 3).
Here’s where San Diego stands so far:
- Michael Andrew: gold medal, 4×100 medley relay
- Kelsy Plum: gold medal, 3×3 basketball
- Xander Schauffele: gold medal, golf
- Steffen Peters: silver medal, dressage
- Brittney Reese: silver medal, long jump
- Jagger Eaton: bronze medal, street skateboarding
- Brian Burrows: bronze, trap shooting
Still, San Diego trails significantly next to the Big 3: US — 64 medals; China — 62; and ROC: 50.
San Diego has plenty of time and competitors to put points on the board — in fact, on Monday night and Tuesday, track & field star Brittney Reese, who trains in Chula Vista, could make waves; as could Vista native Brooke Anderson, who’ll be throwing the hammer at 3 a.m. on Tuesday; sprinter Michael Norman, a San Diego native, will run in the 400m event; and Will Claye of Chula Vista, will post up for the triple jump qualifiers.
All the athletes with San Diego connections who have traveled to Tokyo are covered with Olympic glory, of course, but the accomplishments of the seven who have stood atop the podium are special. Here’s more about each of them.
1) Xander Schauffele: Golden in Golf!
San Diego’s golden boy Xander Schauffele is also golden in golf.
The Scripps Ranch native and San Diego State University alum held a lead he secured in the second round of the Tokyo Olympics golf tournament to secure his gold medal 18-under par.
NBC 7’s Steven Luke caught up with Xander Schauffele after his win.
The 27-year-old entered the final round of the men’s golf tournament with a one-stroke lead on Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama. And while a few golfers made it close, it was Schauffele who walked away with the lead.
Watch Schauffele’s gold-winning shot below:
2) Jagger Eaton: Kickflips for Bronze!
It was firsts all around when street skateboarder Jagger Eaton secured bronze in the sport’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics.
And if winning a medal at all wasn’t remarkable enough, Eaton did it with a busted ankle.
“I really torqued my ankle three months ago,” the 20-year-old Eaton told NBC 7. “I almost gave myself a spiral fracture.”
That’s what happens when a bone experiences extreme force, cracking diagonally and resembling a corkscrew. Eaton skated on it at the world championships in Rome in the first week of June to make sure he could qualify for the Olympic Games, and things got even worse.
“I tore two ligaments and gave myself two fractures,” Eaton said.
Watch highlights from Eaton’s medal-winning performance as he talks with TODAY:
3) Steffen Peters: Silver on Horseback!
Carmel Valley resident Steffen Peters was part of the dressage team that secured a medal for the U.S. for the first time in the dressage team grand prix special since 1948.
His wife and ranch team in San Diego couldn’t be prouder of Peters and Mopsie, the horse Peters rode to victory.
It wasn’t the German-born rider’s only accomplishment of the Tokyo Olympics: At 56-years-old, Peters also made history as the oldest U.S. Olympic medalist since 1952.
Watch Peters, Sabine Schut-Kery and Adrienne Lyle trot their way to silver below:
4) Kelsey Plum: She’s Got High Hoops
The San Diego native Kelsey Plum led the women’s 3×3 basketball team to the top of the podium at the Tokyo Olympics after beating Russia in the finals.
Before the Tokyo Olympics, Plum’s coaches and neighbors watched her journey to this moment.
“We knew something was different about Kelsey,” San Diego Sol Basketball Coach Spatticus Harris said. “I used to play pick-up basketball with her father back in the day, and she joined our program San Diego Sol. I got to coach her in the seventh and eighth grade, and talk about someone that always loves a challenge and ultra-competitive.”
Plum’s journey on the basketball court has taken her from San Diego Sol to La Jolla Country Day to the University of Washington to the Las Vegas Aces to the Tokyo Olympics.
Watch Plum and Co. drive to the gold here:
5) Michael Andrew Makes a Splash
Swimmer Michael Andrew – an Encinitas resident who surfs North County breaks – will head home with a gold medal after the closing ceremonies.
It’s been a while since San Diego has had a swimmer in the Olympics with gold medal potential, but Andrew fit that bill, qualifying for three separate individual events, but it was his teamwork that paid off over the weekend.
The U.S. men’s swim team had won every Olympics gold medal in the 4x100m medley relay in event history – and it kept that streak alive Saturday night.
Get to know San Diego local and Team USA swimmer Michael Andrew. NBC 7’s Steven Luke reports.
Ryan Murphy, Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple and Andrew beat Great Britain and Italy’s teams, taking home the gold medal with a world-record time of 3:26.78 on their final day of swimming at the Tokyo Games.
After disappointing finishes in previous swimming events and controversy over decisions he’s made regarding the pandemic (including not getting vaccinated and not wearing a mask during an interview in the media area, where masks are optional but many athletes have worn them), Andrews victory had to have been sweet.
Here’s Andrews and the medley makers bringing home the gold:
6) Brittney Reese Leaps Her Way to Silver
Reese’s silver secured Monday night is the third medal of her Olympic career. She also took home silver in 2016 and gold in 2012.
She’s a seven-time world champion who was born in Inglewood, California, and now calls San Diego home.
Brittney Reese took home the silver medal in the long jump, finishing just behind gold medal winner Malaika Mihambo of Germany.
Reese may be a living legend on the track — where she is known for showing up with big-time performances on the largest of stages — but her most incredible accomplishment could be how she quietly showed up for her best friend off the track.
Reese stepped up to raise her best friend’s son as her own and has embraced the role as a single mom while traveling the globe as a professional athlete.
Listen/Subscribe to NBC 7’s Olympic Dreams: San Diego to Tokyo podcast wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. On each episode, NBC 7 News Today anchor Steven Luke will sit down with athletes in their prime, each with their sights set on one thing: representing Team USA in Tokyo this summer. How will they achieve their Olympic dreams?
7) Brian Burrows Shoots Into Bronze Position
Not only did Brian Burrows help secure a bronze for his team in mixed trap shooting, but he also helped Team USA get its first-ever medal in the event.
Maddy Bernau and Brian Burrows jumped out to an early 18-17 lead after 20 shots. Bernau missed three of her next five to open the door for Slovakia, but eventually hit the winning shot in a shoot-off.
Burrows, who was 12th in the men’s trap event, hit 23 of 25 targets in the final. Bernau hit 19.
Team USA shooters Madelynn Ann Bernau and Brian Burrows took bronze in the first-ever mixed team trap competition in a close match that ended with a sudden-death shoot off.