SAN DIEGO -- Champion distance runner Meb Keflezighi will lead a parade of athletes with San Diego connections into the 2016 Olympics, which get underway officially Friday night with the opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro.
Keflezighi, a native of Eritrea who resides with his family in Old Town but trains at altitude in Mammoth, will take part in his fourth Olympics. The 41-year-old will compete in the marathon on the last day of the games, Aug. 21. He won a silver medal in the event in 2004.
More than 100 competitors with local ties -- who either grew up in San Diego, attended college here or prepared at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista -- are in Brazil. Their sports run the gamut from track and field to sailing.
Besides Keflezighi, fellow marathoner Desiree Davila Linden of Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, water polo star Jesse Smith of Coronado High, volleyball blocker David Lee of Granite Hills High, track star Charles Jock of Mission Bay High, Bonsall race walker John Nunn, equestrian rider Steffen Peters of San Diego and rising Rancho Santa Fe tennis player Coco Vandeweghe are just a few in the contingent.
San Diego State University will be represented by discus thrower Whitney Ashley and triple jumper Shanieka Thomas. Sarah Attar of Escondido High will represent Saudi Arabia in the 800-meter run for a second time.
A sold-out watch party for the opening ceremonies will be held aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. The event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on the downtown San Diego waterfront, will include appearances by Olympic athletes and demonstrations of their sports.