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Immigrants on the U.S. Olympic Team

Foreign-Born American Athletes Will Contend for Medals in London Games


Dozens of foreign-born athletes who immigrated to the United States will represent Team USA in the 2012 London Olympics. Here are some of the top Americans who came from other lands:

Leo Manzano, Son of an Undocumented Migrant Worker

Leo Manzano, won the silver medal in London for the United States. USOC photo
In London, Leo Manzano roared down the homestretch of the 1500 meters to go from sixth place to second and become the first U.S. Olympic medalist at that distance since Jim Ryun in 1968.

Manzano said he grew up admiring Ryun's career. Manzano's time of 3:34.79 was the best ever for an American.

Born in Mexico, Manzano moved with his family to Texas at the age of 4 where he soon began running. His father had supported the family as a migrant worker, frequently crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally to find jobs. Leo became a U.S. citizen in 2004.

After a standout high school career for Marble Falls High School (Marble Falls, Texas), where he won a total of nine state championships, Manzano went on to compete for the University of Texas. He holds school records in the indoor mile and 1,500 meters.

In 2012, he won the 1500 meters at the USA Indoor championships and the U.S. Olympic Trials to earn his trip to London.

Lopez Lomong, the Sudan 'Lost Boy' the U.S. Saved

Lopez Lomong, refugee the U.S. embraced. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Olympic Committee
No one brings to London a more remarkable story of survival and achievement than Lopez Lomong. One of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan, he came to the United States at the age of 16, fleeing civil war and life in a refugee camp.

Lomong earned his U.S. citizenship in 2007 when he was 22. He was the flag-bearer for the U.S. team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and made the semifinals in the 1,500-meter run. He competed in the 5,000-meter event in London and finished 10th.

He says the Olympics are a chance for him to pay back the United States and Americans for giving him a new life. "This is my gift, to give back to this country that has given me a second chance," he said. "I love the United States."...Read more about Lomong's remarkable journey

Danell Leyva, Gymnast Whose Family Fled Cuba

Danell Leyva, took home bronze from London. USOC photo
Born in 1991 in Cardenas, Mantanzas, Cuba, Danell Leyva is the 2011 U.S. national all-around gymnastics champion. He is a specialist on the parallel bars and horizontal bar.

Leyva's mother, Maria Gonzalez, brought him to Miami from Cuba as an infant in 1993. His stepfather and coach, Yin Alvarez, defected from Cuba by swimming across the Rio Grande River into the United States while the Cuban national team was competing in Mexico. Maria also was a member of the Cuban team.

Leyva's signature move on the horizontal bar is called the "jam-dislocate-hop to undergrips." He won the bronze medal in the all-around competition in London.

Foluke Akinradewo, a Well-Traveled Volleyball Player

Foluke Akinradewo, U.S. middle blocker. Photo: USOC.

Born in London, Ontario, Canada in 1987, Faluke Akinradewo is a citizen of three countries: Canada, Nigeria and the U.S. She grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Besides volleyball, she was an all-state pick in basketball and track.

Akinradewo starred at Stanford University where she was Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008, then became an alternate to Team USA for the Beijing Games. A 6-foot-2 middle blocker, she is a formidable force at the nets and a big reason the United States won the silver medal in London.

Liezel Huber, Back to Wimbledon for Olympics

Liezel Huber, fourth in doubles tennis. USOC photo
At age 15, Liezel Huber moved to the United States from South Africa to attend the Van Der Meer Tennis Academy in Hilton Head, S.C. She has lived in the United States since 1992. She married Tony Huber, an American citizen, in February 2000 and gained her U.S. citizenship.

Huber is a doubles specialist who teamed with Zimbabwean Cara Black to form one of the best duos in the history of the women's tour. Huber and Black won two Wimbledon championships together.

In 2005, Huber started Liezel's Cause, a charity foundation to raise money to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She and Lisa Raymond lost their bronze medal match in London to finish fourth.

Bernard Lagat, Distance Runner From Kenya

Bernard Lagat, just missed medal in 5,000-meter race. USOC photo
When growing up on the family farm in Kapsabet, Kenya, Bernard Lagat would run 1.5 miles to school in the morning and then run home in the afternoon.

Lagat, 37, has lived in the United States since 1996 and graduated from Washington State University in 2008. He became a U.S. citizen and started competing for the U.S. In the 2007 World Championships, he was the first runner to win both the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter events. He won two Olympic medals running for Kenya in Sydney and Athens, and he finished fourth in the 5,000-meter event in London, missing a medal by .63 seconds.

"This is where I want to raise my family," he said of coming to the U.S.

Mariya Koroleva, Synchronized Swimmer From Russia

Mariya Koroleva came to the U.S. as a child. USOC photo
Born in Yaroslavl, Russia, in 1990, Mariya Koroleva grew up in Concord, Calif., after the family immigrated to the United States.

Koroleva was a standout in synchronized swimming at Stanford University. She will compete in the synchronized duet event with Mary Killman at the London Olympics. They were the only two U.S. synchronized swimmers to qualify for the Games and they finished 11th overall.

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