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Los Angeles Took Home 4 Times More Olympic Medals Than Any Other U.S. City

Bryshon Nellum grew up in L.A., running track at Long Beach Poly High and USC.EXPAND
Bryshon Nellum grew up in L.A., running track at Long Beach Poly High and USC.
USC

Enough with the America pride. After the closing ceremony for the London Olympics last night, in which the winning U.S. flag was carried by USC shooting victim and Olympic medalist Bryshon Nellum, we've got an intense case of L.A. pride.

Los Angeles was, indisputably, the ultimate-grand-supreme winner of the 2012 Games. And that's not just our maternal instinct talking: Not only are we...

... taking home Team USA's No. 1 douchebag this year (all right, so that one's a little bittersweet), but our local athletes out-medaled the rest of the nation by a landslide.

Based on numbers compiled by UCLA urban-planning doctorate Patrick Adler, Atlantic Cities just posted a map from the Martin Prosperity Institute showing the 2012 Olympic medal density in individual U.S. cities.

L.A.'s giant blue dot makes New York's look like a withering chickenpock:

Total domination.
Total domination.
Zara Matheson via Atlantic Cities

Athletes who reside in Los Angeles brought home a total of 45 medals, according to Adler. By comparison, San Francisco athletes brought home 11; Miami athletes brought home 10; New York and Austin athletes each brought home nine; San Diego athletes brought home eight.

And Adler says Los Angeles also holds the record for most medals per hometown: 35 winners were born in and/or grew up in L.A., while only 10 native New Yorkers received a medal.

Adler notes, "Los Angeles is pretty much the only big city where there isn't this sort of 'draining' going on."

So how, exactly, did we get so awesome? UCLA's urban-planning expert says, "It does seem like weather has something to do with it, because you can train year-round here." He also cites the city's athlete friendliness, from our "culture around fitness and nutrition" to our "critical mass of athletes, training facilities and a lot of coaches."

Adler calls this the "network effect": Because Los Angeles is already home to so many sports stars, it's much easier for other athletes to either stay or move here.

Above all, he says via email that our sports-centric universities are at the core of the L.A. Olympic breeding machine:

"If I had to guess (and this analysis cannot definitely suggest one explanation over another), I would point to the number of Division 1 universities in the L.A. area as a big influence. L.A. has two very large Division 1 sports programs, which are likely to draw athletes, and promote the development of younger athletes into Olympians (or NFL players)."

USC, in particular, claims to have produced more Olympians than any other U.S. university. And this year was an especially hot one: "USC-affiliated athletes won more total medals (25, including 12 golds, 9 silvers and 4 bronzes) at the just-concluded 2012 London Olympics than any American university," says the school -- "making these Games the most successful in Trojan history."

See? We're good for more than just Hollywood! Come one, come all, to the land of rippling muscles in expensive Spandex.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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