Ledecky and Other Montgomery County Olympians Honored in Silver Spring

Rockville swimmer Jack Conger said event marked his first post-Olympic speech


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Local Olympians Ashley Nee, left, Jack Conger, Katie Ledecky and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett at the event Monday in Silver Spring

Andrew Metcalf

More than 300 people convened Monday night in Silver Spring to cheer on Montgomery County Olympians—including Bethesda swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four gold medals and a silver during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games.

The crowd cheered loudly for 19-year-old Ledecky as she took the stage during an event to honor the Olympians hosted by County Executive Ike Leggett at the Silver Spring Civic Building. She displayed her trademark humility while thanking local supporters.

“Thank you to all of you,” she said. “I can’t even describe the amount of support we all received in Rio and that’s what keeps us going every day in practice. That’s what kept us going in Rio.”

Ledecky, who attends Stanford University, was joined by Rockville swimmer Jack Conger and Darnestown canoeist Ashley Nee at the event hosted by the county.

Prior to introducing the athletes, Leggett noted that county champions brought home six gold medals—more first-place finishes than 189 of the 205 nations participating in the summer games.

Conger, a 22-year-old Our Lady of Good Counsel High School graduate, helped the American 4x200-meter relay swim team bring home a gold medal.

The swimmer said Monday he was making his first post-Olympic speech. He noted that his USA gear and gold medal were in Austin, where he attends the University of Texas—not bringing the medal was a detail he said his mom wasn’t happy about.

The swimmer, considered a rising star and possible heir to Michael Phelps, said going to Rio helped him realize how much he wants to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for another shot at more medals.

“I just wanted to thank everyone in Montgomery County for always supporting me and helping me achieve my dreams,” Conger said.

The other local athlete to achieve a gold medal was Rockville wrestler Helen Maroulis, 24, who won American’s first gold in women’s wrestling. Maroulis did not attend Monday’s event because she was traveling.

Nee, a 27-year-old whitewater canoeist who finished 14th in the slalom event at Rio, followed a more traditional, less heralded Olympic path than the superstar Ledecky or gold medal-winning Conger and Maroulis. She trained with little fanfare for 17 years in the swelling rapids of the Potomac River near her home and collected donations—85 percent of which came from residents of the county—to help pay for travel expenses that allowed her to compete.

“It took 17 years of unwavering support from my family and friends…[but] it was a dream come true,” Nee said. “It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t in Montgomery County.”

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