08/13/2012 06:18 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2012

LA Olympians With Medals: Check Out The Athletes Coming Back With Bling (PHOTOS)

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:

California Medalists