The "Golden State" is taking on a whole new meaning now that California's Olympic athletes are starting to return from London.

Of the 104 medals that Team USA won during the 2012 Olympics, about half are flying back with their owners to sunny California, the state that fed, nurtured and trained them to Olympic glory.

The medal counts vary by site, based perhaps on differences between hometown and current residence, or where athletes train. For example, the Atlantic counts at least 66 Californian medalists, while Fox Sports lists 50 and the Denver Post tallies up 42.

By school, USC boasts 25 total medals from the 41 university-affiliated athletes competing in London -- the most for any college during a single Olympics. Up in NorCal, Stanford's affiliated athletes won 16 medals, while UC Berkeley topped them at 17, reports NBC Bay Area.

No matter how you slice it though, California comes out on top, with the LA region doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

So what is it about SoCal life that breeds a champion? Patrick Adler, UCLA PhD Student in Urban Planning, told LA Weekly that it's likely a combination of weather, a "culture around fitness and nutrition," and a critical mass of elite universities, coaches and training programs that attract athletes to the region.

Richard Florida breaks down Southern California's Olympic dominance in The Atlantic:

Los Angeles is again tops, but now it boasts an even greater concentration of athletes: 68 Olympians, 15 percent of the U.S. team, currently call it home. Nearby San Diego is second with 38 or 8.5 percent of Olympic athletes. Colorado Springs is third with 21 or 5 percent. These athletes are clustered around Olympic training facilities in Chula Vista near San Diego and Colorado Springs.


One thing that's notable is the pronounced clustering of athletes in individual sports. L.A., for example, is home to six of 10 beach volleyball players, with two more from nearby Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

More than medal counts, though, California athletes inspired fans worldwide with moving personal stories and tales of courage. To name just a few, USC athlete Bryshon Nellum was chosen to carry the U.S. flag during the closing ceremonies; just a few years ago, doctors told him he may never run professionally again after being shot in the legs. After barely qualifying for the olympics, LA native Allyson Felix won three gold medals and helped set a world record.

In two cases of SoCal vs. SoCal, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol shined in the championship basketball game for gold playing on opposing teams, while beach volleyball vets Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh bested fellow Californians Jennifer Kessy and April Ross for one final gold.

Finally, Californian athlete Sarah Attar made history when she became the first Saudi woman to compete in Olympic track.

We wouldn't expect anything less from the Golden State; thanks for making us proud.

Take a look at just a few of California's newest Olympic medal winners:

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  • Jennifer Kessy

    <strong>Name</strong>: Jennifer Kessy <strong>Age</strong>: 35 <strong>Hometown</strong>: San Juan Capistrano <strong>Event</strong>: Beach Volleyball <strong>Medal</strong>: Silver <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "It's my attitude and my perseverance that got me here." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Kessy graduated from USC with a degree in history.

  • McKayla Maroney

    <strong>Name</strong>: McKayla Maroney <strong>Age</strong>: 16 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Long Beach <strong>Event</strong>: Artistic gymnastics <strong>Medals</strong>: Gold Medal, Women's Team Final; Silver Medal, Women's Vault <strong>Quotable Quote</strong>: "My mom put me in gymnastics because i had so much energy and I was always running around, so she thought gymnastics might take away some of the insane amounts of energy." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Like most 16-year-olds, Maroney loves Drake, Taylor Swift, and Katy Perry.

  • Jessica Hardy

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Jessica Hardy</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 25 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Long Beach <strong>Event</strong>: Swimming, Women's 4x100 Freestyle Relay <strong>Medal</strong>: Bronze <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: After winning the 100 freestyle in trials: "I absolutely couldn't believe it. The 100 free is my weakest event and I swam my best time ever. At 25, I didn't see that coming! I was honestly thinking, 'Just place in the top six,' so that I could have a relay spot on the team...To get first, no way! I was the one least likely to win. It was the night of my life." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Hardy is engaged to Swiss Olympian Dominik Meichtry.

  • Scott Gault

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Scott Gault</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 29 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Piedmont, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Rowing, Men's Final Four A <strong>Medal</strong>: Bronze <strong>Fun Fact:</strong> After rowing, Scott sees himself as a professional golfer.

  • Jessica Steffens

    <strong>Name:</strong><a href="" target="_hplink"> Jessica Steffens</a> <strong>Age:</strong> 25 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Danville, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Water Polo <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Quotable Quote</strong>:</a></strong> Describing the victory over Hungary before the Olympics: "It's a huge help. You kind of get a sense of what it will be like." <strong>Fun Fact: </strong> Jessica's sister, Maggie, is a member of the Senior National Team for water polo.

  • Sarah Hammer

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Sarah Hammer</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 28 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Redondo Beach, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Track Cycling, Women's Omnium <strong>Medals</strong>: Silver (2) <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Hammer retired from track cycling in 2003, only to return to the sport in 2004. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On recovering after a bad show at the Beijing games: "I really enjoyed training with the young riders. That was one of the biggest things that helped re-motivate me after Beijing. They gave me a new, fresh perspective. They looked up to me and my accomplishments. It was just a great experience being around people from all over the world."

  • Bryshon Nellum

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Bryshon Nellum</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 23 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Long Beach, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Track, Men's 4x400m Relay <strong>Medal</strong>: Silver <strong>Fun Fact</a></strong>: Nellum has overcome many obstacles to get to London; in 2008, he was the <a href="" target="_hplink">victim of a drive-by gang violence</a> and was shot in both his legs. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On overcoming the odds to reach the Olympics: "I'm here, I have the medal around my neck, I've got team processing papers, got an American flag, got my flowers, so I guess it's true."

  • Mike Bryan

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Mike Bryan</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 34 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Camarillo, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Tennis <strong>Medals</strong>: Gold (doubles), Bronze (mixed doubles) <strong>Fun Fact</a></strong>: Bryan drums in The Bryan Brothers Band with his brother and fellow tennis champ, Bob, and their father, Wayne. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On playing doubles with his brother: "Doubles is a game where there are so many facets, so many shots you have to learn, so much strategy that it takes a long time to develop into a great doubles player. We've been working on doubles - not just singles - since such a young age and have developed a lot of skills that you need to be great doubles players. Overall our games really complement each other."

  • Bob Bryan

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Bob Bryan</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 34 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Camarillo, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Tennis <strong>Medals</strong>: Gold (doubles) <strong>Fun Fact</a></strong>: Bryan volunteers for several charities including WECANN for abused and neglected children, Andrea Jaeger's Silver Lining Foundation, and Elton John's AIDS Foundation. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On his Twitter presence: "When you've got 15,000 people following you, it can be hard to post a tweet that won't offend someone in that group. I once tweeted that I went to see 'New Moon' and I copped a lot of flak over that. I didn't realise there were so many 'New Moon' haters."

  • LaShinda Demus

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">LaShinda Demus</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 29 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Long Beach, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Track 400 m hurdles <strong>Medal</strong>: Silver <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Demus has five-year-old twin boys. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On raising young sons while keeping her career going: "I always tell people that I'm still trying to figure it out. All I do know is that I would not be able to keep the amount of balance I do have without my other half, my husband. Time management is definitely the key."

  • Allyson Felix

    <strong>Name: </strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Allyson Felix</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 27 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Los Angeles, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Track & Field <strong>Medal: </strong> Gold (200m), Gold (4x100 relay), Gold (4x400 relay) <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Felix is coached by Bob Kersee, husband of Olympic heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On narrowly missing out on the gold medal in Beijing: "I feel like I can't escape it. I'm always thinking about that race, thinking about that final. So hopefully everything goes well up until then. I definitely go back to that moment of getting second all the time. I don't think I ever really got over it. I think that I don't want to."

  • Jason Richardson (Right)

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Jason Richardson</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 26 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Inglewood, CA <strong>Event</strong>L Track & Field, 110 meter hurdles <strong>Medal</strong>: Silver <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Richardson was involved with the debate team when he was younger. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On being a world champion: "I want to put it on a cloak, like a Harry Potter cloak."

  • Tyler Clary

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Tyler Clary</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 23 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Riverside, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Swimming, 200 meter backstroke <strong> Medal:: </strong> Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Clary loves playing World of Warcraft. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On massages: "People always go, 'It must be such a tough life getting massages like that.' But when your body is as beat up as mine gets, the massages aren't exactly pleasant. They're pretty painful."

  • Kyla Ross

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Kyla Ross</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 16 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Aliso Viejo, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Gymnastics <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Fun Fact</a></strong>: Ross loves the TV show "Modern Family." <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On being a California girl: "I don't get out much...I rarely go to the beach."

  • Kristian Ipsen

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Kristian Ipsen</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 19 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Clayton, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Diving <strong>Medal: Bronze <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: In the summer, Ipsen works at his family's restaurant, Skipolini's Pizza. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On working out and watching his figure: "Before, when I was younger, I didn't really have to worry about it. But now that I stopped growing -- and I'm not that tall -- and especially because diving is a sport where you need to look good on the board and you're not wearing much."

  • Shannon Boxx

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Shannon Boxx</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 35 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Redondo Beach, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Boxx always tries to eat banana pancakes before a game. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "It's really easy to keep up your training intensity when you know there's always someone trying to take your position. That is what is so great about playing on the U.S. National Team. You always have to be at the top of your game and you're always improving because of the people around you. I train the way I do everyday because in the end I love what I do. When I'm having a rough day, I remind myself how great my job is."

  • Rachel Buehler

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Rachel Buehler</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 27 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Del Mar, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <Strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Buehler is one of 27 in her family to attend Stanford University, and considers ladybugs her lucky charm. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On being a team capitan "I really just try to teammates, and be aware of the different players on the team."

  • Sydney Leroux

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Sydney Leroux</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 22 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Los Angeles, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Both of Leroux's parents have been professional athletes; her mother played for the Canadian National Softball Team, and her father played professional baseball. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On moving from Canada to the US: "I knew that I was going to live my the States and that I was going to college and pursue a career there and eventually build a family there. So it just made sense that I'd play there, as well."

  • Heather Mitts

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Heather Mitts</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 34 <strong>Hometown</strong>: San Diego, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Mitts ran with the bulls in Pamplona in 1999. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On getting grief from her teammates about the attention she gets for her good looks: "Umm, I hear it a little bit from them sometimes. With the Charge, some of the girls would poke at me, but it was always in good fun."

  • Megan Rapinoe

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Megan Rapinoe</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 27 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Redding, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Rapinoe loves Florence and the Machine, Adele, Missy Higgins, Kings of Leon and Dar Williams. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: When asked if she were a celebrity chef, what the name of her show would be: "It would probably be 'Rachael Cooks for Megan' because my sister is a much better cook, and I would be there just to eat and stir and comment on how good the food tastes, because that's actually what I do in real life anyway."

  • Tumua Anae

    <strong>Name</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Tumua Anae</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 24 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Newport Beach, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Water Polo <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Anae says that her best Halloween costume ever was a pilgrim. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "I always dreamed of going to the Olympics when I was young, and I think now that I have the opportunity to travel with the national team and represent my country, it's so much more real and so much closer to a lifelong goal that I've had. It almost seems a little surreal sometimes."

  • Keshia Baker (Right)

    <strong>Name:</strong>: <a href="" target="_hplink">Keshia Baker</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 24 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Fairfield, CA <strong>Event</strong>: Track & Field <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Fun Fact</a></strong>: Baker is earning her master's degree in public health and social work at SDSU. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "I put in all the work and don't have to rely on somebody else. I train, eat right, put in the work and see the results. With track, it starts over every year. Just because you are in the lead one year, doesn't mean you'll maintain that lead. The next year a new person can come up. It depends on the day, on the person, on the event. I love all the aspects of competing in this field."

  • Russell Westbrook

    <strong>Name</strong>: Russell Westbrook <strong>Age</strong>: 24 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Long Beach <strong>Event</strong>: Basketball <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "My job is to be aggressive." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Westbrook is famous for wearing fake glasses; he owns about 25 pairs.

  • Amy Rodriguez

    <strong>Name</strong>: Amy Rodriguez <strong>Age</strong>: 25 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Lake Forest <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "I never thought that I would one day be where I am. I worked really hard as a teenager and always loved playing soccer." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Rodriguez says that her favorite pet is her little sister.

  • Maggie Steffens

    <strong>Name: </strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Maggie Steffens</a> <strong>Age: </strong>19 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Danville, CA <strong>Event:</strong>: Waterpolo <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Quotable Quote</strong>:</a> </strong> "I can envision myself (in London), but it's kind of just in my own mind. It's a lot of work to get there, and there are a lot of great girls on that team. (But) you get a taste of something, you just want it so much more." <strong>Fun Fact:</strong> Of Maggie's 45 cousins, most are successful athletes.

  • Misty May-Treanor

    <strong>Name</strong>: Misty May-Treanor <strong>Age</strong>: 34 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Los Angeles <strong>Event</strong>: Volleyball <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: On her workout routine: "You'd be surprised. I think people think we do a tremendous amount of exercises that are completely different from what the general population can do. It's not true. I think athletes in general have to be a little more disciplined and get our work in." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: May-Treanor and her teammate, Kerry Walsh, have won gold medals in 2004 and 2008.

  • Kerri Walsh Jennings

    <strong>Name</strong>:<a href="" target="_hplink"> Kerri Walsh Jennings</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 34 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Santa Clara <strong>Event:</strong> Beach Volleyball <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Quotable Quote</strong></a>: About her several endorsements and TV commercial appearances: "I wish we had action figures. Maybe next time". <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: In 2006, Kerri became the fourth American woman to surpass $1 million in career earnings.

  • Kara Kohler

    <strong>Name:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">Kara Kohler</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 21 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Clayton, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Rowing <strong>Medal</strong>: Bronze <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Kohler swam competitively throughout high school. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></a></strong>: On her favorite part of the sport: "Having so many people holding each other accountable to do our best for the benefit of the team."

  • Mary Whipple (Far Right)

    <strong>Name:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">Mary Whipple</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 32 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Orangevale, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Rowing <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Whipple was named the 2008 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year by FISA, following her Olympic gold medal win. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: Describing her style in one word: "Supportive."

  • Esther Lofgren (Third From Right)

    <strong>Name:</strong> <a href="" target="_hplink">Esther Lofgren</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 27 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Newport Beach, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Rowing, Women's Eight <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Lofgren is an impressive 6'2" tall, and attended Harvard University. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "At our Olympic Ambassador training several months ago, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves, one that we'd open if we made it to the Olympics. I had completely forgotten about it, and opened the letter to find a huge reminder of the work that we've put in as a team over the last four years and the tons of support that are beaming over here from everyone we know in the USA. It was so moving and it really sunk in--this is it. I'm here. At the Olympics."

  • Erin Cafaro (Far Right)

    <strong>Name: </strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Erin Cafaro</a> <strong>Age</strong>: 29 <strong>Hometown:</strong> Modesto, CA <strong>Event:</strong> Rowing, Women's Eight <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Cafaro says that she is fairly superstitious, and adds 22 seconds to any workout or warm-up. <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "You can have a lot of things to think about that aren't going right or maybe physically you aren't as gifted as the next girl, but that's no excuse. Rowing is a very mental sport, so just find your mental weakness and make it your strength."

  • Alex Morgan

    <strong>Name</strong>: Alex Morgan <strong>Age</strong>: 23 <strong>Hometown</strong>: Diamond Bar <strong>Event</strong>: Soccer <strong>Medal</strong>: Gold <strong><a href="" target="_hplink">Quotable Quote</a></strong>: "My dad and I have always played card games and kept score so when he won, he would sort of taunt me. I think that's part of where I got my competitive edge." <strong>Fun Fact</strong>: Her boyfriend, Servando Carrasco, plays soccer professionally with the Seattle Sounders.