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LDS athletes find success in Beijing

BEIJING — Mormon Olympians earned four gold medals and three silvers at the 2008 Olympics.

The championship men's volleyball team had two LDS members, middle blocker Ryan Millar and libero Rich Lambourne. They were starters in every set of every match. The two had played on BYU's first NCAA championship volleyball team. Millar also helped coach the Cougars in 2007. Both are Southern California natives.

Shot-putter Valerie Adams Vili of New Zealand won the gold medal in her event with a distance of 67.45 feet.

The U.S. women's soccer team also won gold medals, including forward Natasha Kai of Kahuku, Hawaii, who scored the quarterfinal-winning goal on a header in extra time.

The three silver medalists were:

• Lacey Nymeyer of Tucson, Ariz., who competed individually in the 100-meter freestyle and with her teammates won a silver medal in the 4-by-100-meter freestyle relay. She is a University of Arizona student. One of her teammates in the relay was Dara Torres, 41, whose first Olympics was in 1984, before Nymeyer was born.

• The U.S. softball team's starting first baseman, Tairia Flowers, a UCLA graduate, and outfielder Laura Berg, of Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Flowers played every inning of the nine games at first base and had four hits in 22 at-bats, with a home run, a double, three RBIs and three runs. Berg was an outfielder, pinch runner and pinch hitter, starting one game and substituting in six games, with three hits in six at-bats, two runs, one RBI and one stolen base.

A look at other Olympic competitors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:


BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Bountiful native and University of Utah alum Jake Gibb, now residing in Costa Mesa, Calif., and partner Sean Rosenthal finished pool play undefeated, but they lost to the defending Olympic champions from Brazil in the medal-round quarterfinals.

WEIGHTLIFTING: Melanie Roach, a 33-year-old mother of three from Bonney Lake, Wash., placed sixth in the 53-kilogram weight class and broke the U.S. record.

TRACK AND FIELD: Jill Camarena of Tucson, Ariz., qualified for the finals and finished in 12th place in shot put. She graduated from Stanford and did post-graduate studies at BYU.

Pole-vaulter April Steiner Bennett qualified for the finals and finished in eighth place. She is a Mesa, Ariz., native and University of Arkansas graduate.

Former Brigham Young University runner and Orem resident Josh McAdams finished ninth in his heat in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase and had the second-best American time.

Lindsey Anderson, a former Weber State University all-America distance runner and Morgan native, competed in the Olympics' first-ever women's steeplechase, placing eighth in her heat. Anderson will compete Monday in Salt Lake City in the Deseret News- and Mormon Times-sponsored Mormon Mile race.


BASKETBALL: Noni Wharemate, Charmian Purcell and Natalie Purcell were women's team members. The latter two are sisters. The team finished 1-4 in pool play. Wharemate played college ball at UTEP and Natalie Purcell at Southeast Missouri State University.

SWIMMING: Hayley Palmer swam on the women's 4-by-200-meter freestyle relay team. The team did not advance.


SWEDEN: Utah County native Niklas Arrhenius placed 15th in his qualifying round in the discus, the event that won him an NCAA individual championship while competing at BYU. He has dual citizenship because his father is Swedish.

VENEZUELA: Maria Gabriela Martinez Gascon competed in the first round of women's individual epee in fencing.