When London’s Summer Olympic Games begin on July 27, McKinney residents will have a hometown athlete to cheer on.
She’s 21-year-old Mary Killman, a duet synchronized swimmer, and she officially calls McKinney her hometown even though she lived in North Texas for just a few years. Killman and her family moved to McKinney when she was 12.
McKinney residents are honored that Killman calls the community home, and they can follow Killman's activities as the Olympics draw near – and keep up with her throughout the competition by reading McKinneyOnline.com.
Killman and competition partner Mariya Koroleva, 22, are the only U.S. synchronized swimmers to qualify for the Olympic Games, earning their spot with a seventh-place finish at the qualifying tournament in London in April. The full U.S. synchro team did not qualify, so it all falls to Killman and Koroleva to bring home the hardware.
The 5-foot-6-inch Killman, who has been training in Indianapolis since January 2011, departed for London on Tuesday. Her competition begins Aug. 5. The 2012 Olympics in London are being televised on NBC.
Killman and Koroleva are viewed by many as real up-and-comers, having won Silver at the 2011 Pan American Games – though paired then for just two months – and taking first place at the Swiss Open in June.
Their coach, Mayuko Fujiki, certainly knows what it takes, having won Bronze for her native Japan at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
“It's finally sinking in that I'm going to the Olympics, but I don't think it'll fully hit me till I'm at Opening Ceremonies," Killman blogged on July 15. "I plan on making the best out of this experience and I just can’t wait!”
A registered member of the Citizen Potawatomi Tribe, Killman is proud of her Native American heritage. (Legendary U.S. athlete and 1912 Gold Medalist Jim Thorpe was also a native Oklahoman and part Potawatomi.)
As an interesting sidenote, the Killman/Koroleva pairing made No. 16 on Bleacher Report’s 50 Hottest Olympians list.
Q&A With Olympic Athlete Mary Killman
McKinneyOnline.com caught up with her for a brief email interview this week. Here’s what she had to say:
Question: Why is McKinney your “hometown?”
Killman: Texas has always been my home state. I was born in Ada, Oklahoma, but McKinney was where I felt the most at "home." We lived on 5 acres, had a pool and a barn that held two horses and two dogs. It was just great. Since I moved around so much as a kid, it was really the only place I ever considered to be a possible permanent place.
Question: What did you enjoy about McKinney? Any fond memories?
Killman: Maybe not too many "memories," but I loved the people. Maybe it's the cliche "Southern Hospitality" that took over, but everyone I ever met there was always really helpful, even when we didn't need it!
Question: You've had six concussions?
Killman: Haha! Yes, I have. Everything from busted eardrums from being kicked, or from a girl who we just threw in the air, coming down wrong and landing on me instead of the water. … It's okay though, they've never been too severe, so no harm done!
Quick Facts on Killman
- She was homeschooled since the second grade.
- She’s trained in synchro-swimming for 10 years.
- She’s the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Selection Team.
- She’s trained Arabian horses.
About the author: Rick Atkinson is a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot and commercial airline pilot who lives in McKinney with his wife of 23 years, Debbie. He is a freelance writer and cartoonist.