Gold Medal Celebration Planned

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Gold Medal Celebration Planned

Riverside to celebrate its Olympic hero, Tyler Clary

Tyler Clary

Tyler Clary (Mitchell Haaseth/NBC Olympics)

Article by Jerry Rice via The Sun

How exciting is this — a chance to see an Olympic Gold Medal Winner from Riverside! The event is sure to inspire swimmers of every age and probably everyone else who attends. The Sun has the details:

“Redlands-born Tyler Clary, who raced to a gold medal in the pool at the London Olympics, will be sharing his success with local swimmers and supporters on Sept. 8 at the Riverside Aquatics Center.

It will be a homecoming for Clary, who swam for the Riverside Aquatics Association as a youngster and graduated from Riverside Poly High School.

“He’s someone who grew up here and has accomplished something so huge,” said Shari Chun, an RAA board member.

During the two-hour community event, which starts at 10 a.m., Clary will meet with swimmers of all levels from Inland Empire swim clubs. There also will be a formal presentation by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona), Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and members of the Riverside City Council, and a performance by the Poly High band.

Afterward, there will be time for autographs and photos.

At the London games, Clary won the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke in thrilling fashion. Trailing the favorite, Ryan Lochte, for most of the race, Clary came off the final turn and with 40 meters to go he charged past his American teammate, who was swimming in the next lane. On that last lap, Clary also held off the surging Ryosuke Irie of Japan.

Clary won with an Olympic record of 1 minute, 53.41 seconds, bettering the time Lochte clocked in Beijing four years ago.

“You always have big dreams in your head that you think you might be able to pull off something like that,” Clary told the Associated Press after the race. “The fact that I’m now an Olympic champion and Olympic-record holder is something that is very humbling. It’s also very motivating for the next four years.”

After the winning performance in the pool, Clary has been enjoying his success. On Aug. 5, he and Lochte celebrated at a popular London nightclub, China White, where Clary took over DJ duties, according to press accounts. He returned on subsequent nights for encore performances.

And on Aug. 14, a day after returning to the United States, he wore his gold medal as he walked the red carpet in Los Angeles with the cast and crew of a new action film directed by Dax Shepard.

“This is crazy!” Clary tweeted. “I’m going to the premiere of `Hit and Run’ tonight!! Taking my sister as my date.”

Besides celebrating a hometown hero, Chun says the event will be an opportunity for young swimmers to spend time with an Olympic champion and ask him questions.

“When the kids get to meet a hometown swimmer – not a guy from Maryland or someplace else, but somebody who came from here – it really does inspire them a lot,” she said.

“I started with Riverside Aquatics in 2008, and with everyone at home watching every night, we saw what an Olympics can bring because there was a big surge in membership,” she said. “We are seeing that now, too.”

The event also will be a milestone for the aquatics center, says Debbi Guthrie, director of the Riverside Sports Commission. The $11 million facility, which is hosting a growing number of swimming and diving competitions including the recent Southern California Swimming Junior Olympics, opened on the Riverside City College campus in January 2011.

“The aquatics complex has really taken off,” Guthrie said. “Swimming is going to be one of those highly visible sports that will be associated with our community as we go after additional events to host at the complex.”