Web Exclusive: From Here, Done That
A look at other Olympians from the Bethesda area
A number of Olympians have connections to the Bethesda area, even if they’ve since moved on. Here are just a few former competitors who have called this home:
Carol Newman Cronin was born in Bethesda, but moved to Massachusetts and then Newport, R.I., in 1993. She competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, in the women’s keelboat discipline, sailing a Yngling, a cross between a dinghy and a keelboat. Her three-person team finished 10th overall.
Today, at 48, Cronin runs a writing and graphic design business from her home while continuing to sail. She has written three books: Game of Sails: An Olympic Love Story (Live Wire Press, 2011), Cape Cod Surprise: Oliver Matches Wits with Hurricane Carol (GemmaMedia, 2010), and Oliver’s Surprise: A Boy, A Schooner, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 (GemmaMedia, 2008).
John Summers was born in Bethesda and now lives in Boston. He was living in Delaware when he participated in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. A figure skater, he competed in mixed ice dancing with partner Stacey Smith and placed ninth.
Now 55, Summers is vice president of security business at Akamai Technologies and has been off the ice for “quite a long time.” The last time he remembers skating was when his daughter wanted to learn about five years ago. Summers still remembers the Winter Games, though, when he and a childhood friend walked into the stadium together. “I remember how I felt looking up and seeing our two families sitting together in the stands,” he says. “What an honor it was to represent the country.”
Kent Weigle also was born in Bethesda but was living in Connecticut when he participated in the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. It was the first Olympics to be held after the “Munich Massacre” of Sept. 5, 1972, when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 members and officials of the Israeli Olympic team as well as a West German police officer.
“In the Olympic Village in Innsbruck, I remember feeling like I was in a concentration camp because of the high barbed-wire fences, metal detectors and guards with guns and dogs,” Weigle says. “It was very odd to be in something like the Olympics, where all of the nations come together, but you actually had to be protected from the world at large. Very sad, but memorable.” A figure skater, Weigle competed in mixed ice dancing with partner Judi Genovesi. They finished in 15th place.
Today, at 57, he lives in Salt Lake City and gives private skating lessons.
Rhadi Ferguson was born in Portland, Ore., but was living in Rockville when he competed in men’s half-heavyweight judo at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Given a “false attack” penalty in the quarterfinals, Ferguson finished in 16th place. He also was a U.S. judo team alternate at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.
Ferguson since has established the Rhadi Ferguson Coaching Program, training fighters in all combat sports, including jujitsu, mixed martial arts and judo. Now 39 and living in Tampa, Fla., Ferguson remembers what it was like to walk out onto the track during the Olympic opening ceremonies. “I just couldn’t stop being happy,” he says. “I had trained and sacrificed so much for so long. Being there was like living a dream.”
Courtney Kupets was born in Bedford, Texas, but was living in Gaithersburg when she competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The gymnast was only 18 when she won the bronze medal in women’s uneven bars and her team won silver in the women’s all-around.
Kupets, who will be 26 on July 27, is pursuing her master’s degree in sports management at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga. She no longer competes, but she has participated in NBC’s Progressive Gymnastics and Skating Spectacular for the last three years and was a stunt double on the ABC Family series Make It or Break It. Though standing on the podium to receive a silver medal felt “amazing,” what Kupets recalls most vividly is seeing Chinese basketball player Yao Ming in the cafeteria. “It felt like slow motion,” she says, “walking by and looking up to see how tall he really was.”