The Olympics are much more fun when you have an area athlete to cheer for.
People take great pride in the local kid who makes good. It's simple human nature.
Unfortunately, there are no York County athletes in the 2012 Summer Games in London.
No Whitney Metzler, no Scott Strausbaugh, no Linda Myers.
In fact, as far as we can tell, the last York County Olympian was Metzler, a Dallastown High graduate who swam to an eighth-place finish in 1996 in the 400-meter individual medley. Strausbaugh became the only York County native to win an Olympic gold medal in 1992 when the Dover High grad won the two-man canoe slalom with partner Joe Jacobi. And Central York grad Myers was a two-time Olympic archer, finishing fifth in 1972 and seventh in 1976.
Having said all that, York County Olympic fans can still have a serious rooting interest in the women's modern pentathlon on Sunday.
Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.
On the final day of the London Games, a young woman who works out at the Shrewsbury YMCA pool will chase her golden dream in one of the more obscure sports on the Olympic schedule. Suzanne Stettinius is from Parkton, Md., just down Route 83 and just below the Pennsylvania border.
The 24-year-old McDaniel College and Hereford High graduate is a long shot to earn a medal, according to the experts. But the experts are often wrong. Just ask Strausbaugh. No one thought Strausbaugh and Jacobi had much of a chance at a medal in 1992, much less gold. They made the pundits look silly.
Maybe Stettinius can do the same.
Modern pentathlon, for the uninitiated, is a one-day competition that includes five events -- fencing, swimming, riding and combined running and shooting. Granted, it's an unusual mix. The sport was inspired by the pentathlon event in the ancient Greek Olympics, which was modeled after the skills of the ideal soldier at the time.
Stettinius is not a soldier, but, by all accounts, the life-long athlete is dedicated, determined and tough -- qualities that would serve any solider well. During her athletic career, she's survived several serious injuries, including a broken neck and a broken collarbone. Still, she's endured and succeeded.
It may be in the genes. Her father is a former Navy SEAL.
By her own admission, Stettinius found it difficult to stick with just one sport in her youth. She dabbled in just about every athletic endeavor possible.
"I don't know how other athletes stay fit with just one sport," Stettinius told The Baltimore Sun recently. "I'm too ADHD for that."
Her short attention span, and her upbringing on a horse farm, made her perfect for the modern pentathlon.
Getting to London wasn't easy. She had to train for thousands of grueling hours and then earn a qualifying berth, of course. But she also had to engage in various fund-raising activities, including auctioning off the opportunity to win a date with Stettinius. After all, athletes in the modern pentathlon usually don't appear on cereal boxes or make millions in endorsements. Finances are a constant problem.
Put it all together and it makes for a fascinating story.
Yes, it's true, Stettinius is not actually from York County. But she does work out here, and her home is about as close to York County as geographically possible, without actually being located within its borders. She also seems to embody the true Olympic spirit.
Come Sunday, she's an athlete that all of York County should cheer for.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdis patch.com.
If you're interested in following Suzanne Stettinius' progress on Sunday in the modern pentathlon, you can turn to the NBC Sports Network (Channel 66 on Comcast cable), which will show her competition on tape delay.
Fencing and swimming will be aired between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. while riding and combined shooting and running will be aired between 2:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
You can also watch the events live online at nbcolympics.com. The fencing competition will actually begin at 3 a.m. Eastern time, and continues with swimming (7:35 a.m.), riding (9:35 a.m.) and combined shooting and running (1 p.m.).
If you would like to know more about Stettinius, visit her website at http://www.suzanne.mintmeadows.com/home.