BY JEFF FALK
Lebanon is a big county. The world is a small place. And outside of the Olympics, the international sports of rifle shooting and women’s field hockey don’t really get all that much media attention.
Given those ‘facts’, it’s probably not all that out of the ordinary that Lebanon County natives and fellow Olympians Jamie Beyerle-Gray and Amy Tran-Swensen have never formally met. And until recently, they barely knew each other’s name.
Interviewed separately by www.lebanonsportsbuzz.com in July, prior to the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, both Beyerle-Gray and Tran-Swensen admitted that they were only vaguely familiar with the other – despite the fact that they’re only four years apart in age, grew up just miles away from each other and ran in some of the same athletic circles.
“I know she went to Northern Lebanon High School,” said Beyerle-Gray at the time. “I played soccer with her cousin. Do I know her? No. I couldn’t pick her out of a crowd. No. But I know who she is because she’s an Olympian.”
“How amazing for our little county,” said Tran-Swensen, in July, when told about Beyerle-Gray. “My parents will be excited when I tell them. They have so much pride. I think Lebanon County is a great place to grow up.”
It appeared that Beyerle-Gray and Tran-Swensen would formally make each other’s acquaintance on August 14, when a celebration to honor the locale’s two Olympians was held on the steps of the Lebanon Municipal Building. But Tran-Swensen could not attend due to logistical difficulties.
At that time, Beyerle-Gray publicly expressed her disappointment in not being able to meet Tran-Swensen. But the Olympic Gold Medalist did acknowledge Tran-Swensen’s mother Sue, who was in attendance that day.
Of course, producing an Olympian is rare for such a small county as Lebanon. The odds against it being home to two are astronomical.
But Beyerle-Gray and Tran-Swensen both have competed in each of the last two Summer Olympic Games.