Twelve South Florida Olympians to Watch in Rio

The Rio Olympics start this Friday, and South Florida is well-represented, with a dozen athletes who call Broward or Palm Beach home.

Need help picking someone to root for, or just looking for some fun facts to make you look smart at parties? Here are the folks who spend most of their downtime in our piece of the subtropics. There is also a slideshow of the many faces of South Florida that will be in Rio when the opening ceremonies are held this Friday. 

1. Nick Lucena, Volleyball.
The Fort Lauderdale native is also an adorably dorky dad. Between shots of beach volleyball competitions in places like Gstaad, Amsterdam, and Laguna Beach, his Instagram is dedicated to pictures of his four-year-old son coloring and dressing up as a pumpkin. 

2. Kent Farrington, Equestrian.
Farrington, a show jumper, grew up in Chicago and then moved to Wellington, where he owns a farm that’s valued at $2.7 million. Horse Junkies United (which, apparently, is a real website) did a video tour of the barn, which is fun to watch if you want to know what it’s like to be a horse that’s worth more than most people’s cars. 

3. Lexi Thompson, Golf.
Born and raised in Coral Springs, Thompson became the youngest person ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 when she was 12 years old. At age 16, she became the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history. Now, at age 21, she’s an Olympian. Do you want to kill yourself yet?

4. Arman Hall, Track and Field.
Technically, Hall was born in Miami and now lives in Gainesville, where he’s an NCAA champion at the University of Florida. But since he grew up in Pembroke Pines and was first noticed as a sprinter at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, it seems fair for Broward County to claim him.

5. Foluke Akinradewo, Volleyball.
In addition to being crazy talented, Foluke Akinradewo is also crazy smart. The Plantation resident studied human biology at Stanford University and plans to become an orthopedic surgeon after her volleyball career ends.

6. Allison Brock, Equestrian.
Brock, who is a Wellington resident, will be competing as a member of the dressage team. She told the Sun-Sentinel that her freestyle routine is inspired by the chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which is kind of a weird thing to say about something you do with a horse, but okay.

7. Madison Keys, Tennis.
Here’s what you need to know about Boca Raton’s Madison Keys: At 19, she beat Venus Williams. While she’s not a household name yet, the fact that she’s already giving fitness tips to the readers of Teen Vogue and telling the New York Times’ travel section about her mascara suggests she’s on her way.

8. Pedro Pascual, Windsurfing.
Though he was born in Cordoba, Spain, and went to high school in Saudi Arabia, Pascual calls West Palm Beach home. He’s a rising junior at Florida Atlantic University, where he studies mechanical engineering. 

9. Sloane Stephens, Tennis.
After Stephens beat Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2013, the Plantation native told Sports Illustrated that Williams had removed her on BlackBerry Messenger and unfollowed her on Twitter. Meanwhile, she’s gained fans of her own, including one who creepily hand-delivered a dildo to her hotel during a tournament.

10. Nicholas Delpopolo, Judo.
Back in 2012, the Davie resident was unceremoniously thrown out of the London Olympics for eating a pot brownie — inadvertently, he said. While he’s managed to make a comeback after losing most of his sponsorships, you can be sure the Olympic Committee is going to be looking at him carefully.

11. & 12. Venus and Serena Williams, Tennis.
Hopefully, you don’t need any explanation about who these two are. But did you know they consider Palm Beach Gardens to be their hometown?
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Antonia Farzan is a fellow at New Times. After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, she moved to South Florida to pursue her dream of seeing a manatee and meeting DJ Khaled (ideally at the same time). She was born and raised in Rhode Island and has a BA in classics from Hamilton College.