We can claim what most can't — a gold medalist — and we have a two-time qualifier, another uncommon feat in the extreme.
But with the Summer Olympic Games finally opening this week in Tokyo after a year's delay, we are reminded of how grand a worldwide stage they are and how impossibly rare it is to have a local athlete qualify for and compete in them, especially with just two such events in a decade.
Pete Rademacher, who was born in Tieton and was a multi-sport athlete at Yakima Valley College, won a gold medal in boxing in 1956, and Kelly Blair, who was born and raised in Prosser and remains one of the best female athletes the state has ever produced, placed eighth in the 1996 Olympic heptathlon and qualified for the 2000 Games.
It's a short list, for sure, but there are a few other tales of near-misses and ill-timed injuries that kept the list from growing considerably.
In 1980, Yakima's Charles Carter made the U.S. Olympic team in boxing at the age of 21, bumping up from welterweight to middleweight two months before the Trials. But he never got to compete in Moscow because of the U.S. boycott following the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.
The 2000 Sydney Games in Australia had two local qualifiers from the Valley — and in the same sport. But unfortunately for both, circumstances turned against them.
Blair earned a second trip to the Olympics in the heptathlon, overcoming a rash of nagging injuries to rally from seventh to third on the second day of the Trials. But those injuries, most notably an ailing back, kept her from competing.
Also at the U.S. Trials in Sacramento, Ellensburg graduate and UW standout Ja'Warren Hooker placed seventh in the 400-meter final, a day after running 44.78 seconds while winning his semifinal. Hooker was named to the U.S. relay pool for the 4x400 and made the trip to Australia but wasn't selected to run in the first-round heats.
During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, local viewers were caught off-guard when NBC described gymnast Brett McClure, who helped the U.S. men earn a silver medal in the team competition, as "the pride of Yakima, Washington."
McClure was indeed born in Yakima in 1981, but his parents Les and Judy McClure moved from the Lower Valley to Mill Creek before Brett started elementary school. McClure attended Jackson High School before departing at age 16 to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Blair's illustrious career hit its apex at age 25 in 1996, perfectly timed in an Olympic year with the Games hosted in Atlanta so a nice entourage from Prosser could attend. While the Olympics were definitely the big show, Blair's first trip to Atlanta that summer produced perhaps her biggest single accomplishment — beating world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee by three points to win the Olympic Trials.
With her skilled diversity ideally matched to the heptathlon, Blair was the national prep leader as a junior and senior for the Mustangs, was an NCAA championship at Oregon where she also played basketball, and in addition to the Olympics she also competed in two World Championships.
Rademacher also had a resume that stretched far and wide, including an amateur career that spanned 79 bouts followed by a pro campaign that started with facing heavyweight world champion Floyd Patterson in Seattle.
But for Rademacher, who passed away last year at age 91, nothing could ever match the gold medal. And what made it even more special was how unexpected it was.
The 1956 Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia, and contested much later than normal in November and December. Rademacher, who had just turned 28, was listed in Olympic records as 6-foot-1, 209 pounds with a hometown of Grandview. His parents sold their home and orchard in Tieton in 1954 and moved to Grandview to be closer to family.
Rademacher made quick work of his first two opponents with technical knockouts in the quarterfinals and semifinals. In the final, though, he was up against the Soviet Union's Lev Moukhine, who touted a record of 100-0. But Rademacher stunned Moukhine with a first-round TKO. The significance of that upset in the Cold War era was evident in Rademacher was chosen as the U.S. flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.
We can, of course, pad our riches greatly by expanding the Olympic scope to include the Winter Games, where Naches Valley High School graduate Phil Mahre was a three-time Olympian and two-time medalist with slalom gold in 1984. It was a Mahre 1-2 in Sarajevo as his brother Steve captured the slalom silver.
This might be the extent of it for the Valley in the Olympics, but who knows?
When the XXXII Olympiad concludes in Tokyo on Aug. 8, it'll be just three years until Paris hosts XXXIII. Then it's Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032. There are more opportunities than ever, like the Tokyo debuts of skateboarding and BMX freestyle.
For any kids at the Chesterley skate park, start dreaming big.