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Queens Chronicle

GOLDEN! Charles, Bird aid U.S. sweep

Jamaica native, CTK and WNBA stars reach top Olympian heights

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:58 am, Thu Aug 23, 2012.

Tina Charles has played basketball for the No. 1 high school team in the country at Christ the King in Middle Village, won a Division I national championship at the University of Connecticut and was a No. 1 draft pick and rookie of the year for the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.

And now, to that already impressive resume, Queens’ favorite daughter of the 2012 London games has added an Olympic gold medal.

Charles, born in Jamaica, and fellow Christ the King alumna Sue Bird were key performers as the United States women capped off a perfect 8-0 tournament in London on Aug. 11 with an 86-50 drubbing of France.

The win gave the U.S. women their fifth consecutive gold medal and extended the team’s Olympic winning streak to 41 games.

Charles finished the tournament with 84 points. Official statistics from the “London 2012” website list her team-leading 59 rebounds as third-most in the tournament, and her 7.4 per game fifth-best.

Bird finished with 49 points, including 11 against France in the gold medal game.

Bird’s seven three-point shots in London led the U.S. squad, and her 36 assists and 4.5 assists per game were both second-most in the tournament.

Bird will add her new bauble to a trophy case that already contains Olympic gold medals from Beijing in 2008 and Athens in 2004.

It is the first Olympic medal for Charles.

Two other women on Team USA with ties to the borough did not fare quite as well in their events, though Alysia Johnson Montano came awfully close.

Montano, who was born in Queens but grew up in California, took fifth place in the finals of the women’s 800-meter run, coming in a scant 1.74 seconds behind gold medalist Marlya Savinova of Russia.

The former NCAA and United States national champion in the event, Montano missed the silver medal by seven-tenths of a second, and the bronze by 0.34 seconds.

In the women’s 10-meter platform diving competition, Brittany Viola earned her way to the semifinals, but did not make the cut for the last day of the competition.

The daughter of former New York Mets and St. John’s University pitching star Frank Viola, she finished 15th overall in a field of 28 semifinalists.

Ruolin Chen of China took the gold.

Viola’s performance was good enough to make her the highest-ranking U.S. woman in the event, placing her one slot ahead of teammate Katie Bell of Columbus, Ohio.

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