Though perhaps not a hotbed for future gold medalists, the city of Louisville has had its fair share of success over the years when it comes to producing Olympians.
The legend of Muhammad Ali famously began when 18-year-old Cassius Clay traveled to Rome in 1960 and returned home to Louisville with a gold medal around his neck. Four years after Ali's triumph, Mary T. Meagher was born in the Derby City. "Madam Butterfly" would eventually win four medals, three gold, at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Notable Louisvillians like Allan Houston, Jon Rauch and Charley Ellis have also enjoyed their respective moments in the Olympic spotlight.
The accolades of University of Louisville athletes competing at the Olympics are less-discussed in the city, and for good reason.
Rewind the clock just eight years ago. Heading into the Beijing Olympics, only two Cardinal athletes had ever competed in the world's most well-known athletic competition, and none had ever won a medal. Contrast that with what we're about to see next month in Rio, when 12 Louisville athletes will represent their home countries at the Games. More than a handful of those competitors have a legitimate chance to see their Olympic experience end with a trip to the podium.
Before Olympic fever grabs hold of America next month, let's get educated on the 12 athletes who will be representing both their country and the University of Louisville in Brazil.
Kelsi Worrell (Swimming - United States)
In front of a national television audience on NBC in June, Worrell became the first American swimmer from UofL ever to qualify for the Olympic Games by dominating her competition in the 100-fly.
The fact that Worrell swam the second fastest 100-fly in the world and bested the 2012 gold medalist in the event, Dana Vollmer, in the finals would indicate that the 21-year-old UofL product is now one of the favorites to bring home the gold medal from Rio.
"I wasn't expecting to touch first," Worrell admitted afterward about her victory. "It was emotional hearing that and then seeing my time on the board. It's a dream come true. This is what I've been training for all year long and what I've been dreaming about my entire life."
The trip to Rio will be the bow on top of what has been another massive year for Worrell, who will leave Louisville as the most decorated individual athlete in the history of Cardinal athletics.
Worrell kicked 2015-16 off by winning three medals, including a gold in the 100-fly, at the 2015 Pan American Games. She then became a world record holder in the 400 short course meter medley relay thanks to her team's performance at the 2015 Duel in the Pool in Indianapolis. Toss in a pair of NCAA championships, another year of All-American honors, an American record and becoming the first woman in history to swim the 100-yard butterfly in under 50 seconds, and yeah, you've got a nice little year.
Angel McCoughtry (Women's Basketball - United States)
The all-time leading scorer in the history of Louisville basketball, McCoughtry has represented the United State in one Olympics, one Pan American Games and two FIBA World Championships, and has come back home with gold medals all four times. Team USA is 17-0 in an international competition with McCoughtry on its roster.
At the 2012 Olympics in London, McCoughtry was the second-leading scorer on the American team, finishing the tournament with an average of 10.9 points per game. She also led her team in steals with 2.5 steals per game, and her .620 field goal percentage was the best of any player in the 12-team tournament.
McCoughtry's claim as the most decorated former Cardinal currently playing a professional sport is a good one. She has been a WNBA All-Star four times, been named first team All-WNBA three times, led the league in scoring twice, and carried the Atlanta Dream to the WNBA finals in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Jessica Javelet (Rugby - United States)
The third and final former Cardinal who will be representing the United States next month in Rio is Jessica Javelet, who will be playing on the American rugby team. If you're confused and surprised by the revelation that UofL has a rugby team, it's not your fault. UofL does not field a rugby team (although they do have a club squad), but Javelet did spend four years at Louisville starring on the field hockey pitch.
In four seasons at UofL between 2006 and 2009, Javelet was named an All-American three times, and was a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award in 2007. She left Louisville as the valedictorian of her class and the school's all-time leading scorer in both points and goals. Despite all those accolades, she was one of the final players cut from the 2008 United States field hockey team that went to Beijing.
After a brief professional field hockey career in Germany, Javelet returned to the United States and began playing American football in the Women's Football Alliance league. Playing both ways as a wide receiver and defensive back, she was named co-MVP of the league in 2013 after helping the Chicago Force to a championship. Shortly thereafter, she was approached by team USA rugby coach Ric Suggitt about giving the sport a try. As Suggitt expected, Javelet was a natural, and three years later she is expected to star for America as women's rugby makes it Olympic debut.
Wesley Korir (Track & Field - Kenya)
Nine current or former Cardinal athletes will be representing countries other than the United States at the 2016 Olympics. Korir is the only one of those 12 who is currently a member of his home country's Parliament. Of course he's also a pretty good athlete as well.
A long-distance runner who specializes in road running competitions, Korir won the Boston Marathon in 2012, and the Los Angeles Marathon in both 2009 and 2010. A multiple-time All-American during his career at Louisville, Korir was surprisingly not selected to represent Kenya in the 2012 Olympics. Disappointed at first, Korir chose to spend that summer launching the the Kenyan Kids Foundation, which has dramatically improved education and healthcare in his home country.
Korir will make his Olympic debut in Rio next month, and will continue his tradition of buying two Subway tuna sandwiches before a race. One he eats himself, the other he gives to a person on the street who he believes needs it more.
Joao De Lucca (Swimming - Brazil)
A two-time NCAA champion during his career at UofL, De Lucca will swim in the 200-freestyle, the 400-free relay and the 800-free relay for host country Brazil. He got a taste of the Olympic experience four years ago when he was a reserve member of the Brazilian team, but 2016 should be a different animal.
"Going for the second time to the Olympics, I'm definitely more ready," De Lucca said. "I already know what the village looks like. I'm very familiar with the dining hall, which, for a lot of people can lead to a lot of distractions. I think I have a slight advantage with the fact that I went to London and experienced it all before. Going home to swim the Olympics is a big thing, and I feel ready."
Matt Hughes (Track & Field - Canada)
A national champion in the 3000m steeplechase at Louisville in both 2010 and 2011, Hughes will represent team Canada in the event next month. He is the current Canadian record holder in the steeplechase, a record which he set at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics with a time of 8:11.64. Hughes also won gold in the event at the 2015 Pan American Games with a time of 8:32.18.
Marcelo Acosta (Swimming - El Salvador)
A rising junior at UofL, Acosta made history earlier this year by becoming the first swimmer from El Salvador ever to qualify for the Olympics with an "A" cut time. The Cardinal swam the won the 1500m race with a time of 15:13.09, setting a new national record in the process.
Carlos Claverie (Swimming - Venezuela)
Claverie was already a Venezuelan national record holder when he committed to swim for Louisville back in 2014. A breaststroke specialist, he has earned All-ACC honors in each of his first two seasons swimming for Arthur Albiero's Cardinals.
Andrea Kneppers (Swimming - Netherlands)
A 2016 graduate of UofL, Kneppers was a two-time All-American and three-time All-ACC performer for the Cardinals. A freestyle specialist, she helped the Netherlands win a bronze medal in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay at the European Aquatics Championships in London earlier this year.
Tanja Kyllainen (Swimming - Finland)
Kyallainen qualified for the Games last November by swimming the 200m individual medley in a time of 2:14.20 to narrowly, but definitively clear the "A" time cut of 2:14.26. A 2015 graduate of UofL, Kyallainen will head to Rio as the Finnish record holder in four different events.
Grigory Tarasevich (Swimming - Russia)
An All-American and All-ACC performer in five different events at UofL, the rising senior made headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this summer when he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. The 20-year-old then successfully proved that he took the substance before it was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, clearing him to swim for Russia next month in Rio. He is expected to compete for medals in the 100m and 200m backstroke.