The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

Californians rake in the gold at the Olympics

by Josie Huang | The Madeleine Brand Show

Misty May-Treanor of the US (L) celebrates with teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings during the women's beach volleyball semi-final match US v China. Gold medal winners May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings are native Californians. PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages) CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

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The 2012 Olympics are over, but the state of California is still aglow from its gold medal wins. How did California stack up with other states? Well, let's just say - its athletes made a lot of trips to the podium.

Athletes that train and live in California comprise a quarter of the 530-member US delegation, and they account for about a third of its medalists.

Some sports teams were almost entirely Californian. Take the women's water polo team that took gold - almost all the players are from SoCal. The same goes for the women's 4X100 relay team that passed favored Jamaica at the finish line and broke a world record while at it. Three of the four runners are from in and around Los Angeles.

Several Californians earned multiple medals. Track star Carmelita Jeter of Glendora nabbed gold, silver and bronze. Rebecca Soni of Manhattan Beach won two gold medals, and a silver. Plus, Soni broke a world record in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Californians were also standouts in gymnastics. McKayla Maroney from Laguna Niguel and Kyla Ross from Aliso Viejo helped the women's team land gold.

California is also home to beach volleyball supernovas Misty May-Treanor of Long Beach, and her partner, Kerri Walsh Jennings of Hermosa Beach. The pair won its third team gold by beating fellow Californians April Ross and Jennifer Kessy.

This all begs the question: Why are there so many Olympians in California?

Jake Kaminski, who's on the men's archery team that won silver, says that California weather allows him and other athletes to train year-round.

"Basically, it's the best weather in the country," Kaminksi said. "Minus the sea breeze that we have, it's the best place we can possibly shoot in America."

Kaminski practices at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, a state-of-the-art training ground for athletes ranging from BMX riders to rowers and rugby players.

Many Olympians also end up in California because they get scholarships to sports powerhouses such as the University of Southern California. Twenty-five Trojans medaled in London, according to the PAC 12 athletic conference.

UC Berkeley and Stanford had 17 and 16 medalists, respectively.

Now that the Olympics are over, many of California's athletes are coming back to train for other meets and prepare for the next Olympics in Brazil.

But whether all of them will continue training in California is not clear, especially if they're not originally from here. Kaminski said he'd like to stay in California, but the cost of living is too high. He said he's paying $900 a month for a 450-sq. foot apartment, and is considering moving back home to Florida.

A bipartisan group of California lawmakers is trying to make life easier for Olympians. They've got a bill that would exempt athletes from state taxes on their Olympic winnings.

State Sen. Lou Correa, a Democrat from Santa Ana, is a co-sponsor.

"If you get the $25,000 gold, you pay about $1,500," Correa said. "And a silver medal you pay about $1,000 and a bronze- about $600. This money will make their life a little bit easier. These guys are American and they are California heroes. We want to make sure that they stay here."

But even Correa says the bill's odds of passage aren't that great, given the climate of austerity that's taken hold of Sacramento.

But at the very least the bill sends the message that Californians love their Olympians. And if there is such a thing as an Olympics vote, these politicians may have that sewn up.

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