Wednesday, April 30, 2008

U.S. Olympic Hopefuls Make Time to be Green, Play Video Games, Design Clothing Lines and Volunteer as XXIX Beijing Olympic Games Approach

(Health & Fitness),Today marks the official 100-day countdown to the Beijing Olympic Games. Over the next three months the eyes of the world will be on America's best athletes as they prepare to represent Team USA on the world stage. Many of these athletes have trained their entire lives in the hopes of competing for the United States at the Olympic Games. But despite long days of training, hectic international travel schedules and intense competition pressure many of these Olympians and Olympic hopefuls have managed to lead incredibly normal, interesting lives.

Aaron Piersol (Austin, Texas), a three-time Olympic gold medalist in Athens, is dedicated to protecting the water he loves so much. A diehard surfer from Oceanside, Calif., Aaron has teamed up with Oceana - an environmental advocacy group that protects the world's oceans. He has even started his own non-profit - Race for the Oceans - and fans can support it by sponsoring Aaron for every mile he swims during his Olympic training. He's also in the process of building his own "green" vacation house in Costa Rica.

Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.), a 285-pound shot-putter is not your "typical" athlete. For starters, he has no gall bladder. But the thing that truly makes him unique is the challenges he has overcome. He was given up for adoption at age three, but later, as an adult, he embarked upon an emotional quest and was reconnected with his birth mother. He carries his fierce competitive spirit into playing video games - his favorite way to relax after a meet.

Breaux Greer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) is a javelin thrower you won't forget. The spike-haired, barrel-chested Greer has an impressive collection of tattoos - and he wears only black when he competes. A former lead singer of a hard rock band, Greer hails from a tough neighborhood in Monroe, La.. His edgy personality is occasionally controversial but always entertaining.

Jeremy Wariner (Arlington, Texas) is a two-time gold medal winner in the 400m sprint - who picked up running as a sophomore year in high school. Besides his blazing speed, Wariner is best known for two things: his obsession with video games (he plays between one to three hours every day); and his fashion sense on the track - he always races wearing diamond earrings and sunglasses (even at night).

Shawn Johnson (Des Moines, Iowa), the reigning all-around champion at the 2007 FIG World Championships who spends over 10 hours each day in training, loves to steal away to bask in the fresh air and explore the outdoors. She spends what little free time she has mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing. She is also an animal lover and volunteers at the Animal Rescue League.

Donny Robinson (Napa, Calif.), will compete in BMX Racing as the sport makes its Olympic Games debut this summer in Beijing. He is one of the favorites to win gold, even though he is the smallest competitor by six inches and 50 pounds. He has dreams of performing on Broadway, and loves to choreograph dance routines.

Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, CA), the 200-meter silver medalist in Athens and 2007 world champion, doesn't just look good sprinting across the finish line - this fashionista looks good every time she steps out of the house. When she's not sporting her track shoes, she is always looking for a chance to wear her red Christian Louboutins. But don't let her obsession with shoes fool you, Felix is firmly grounded by her faith in God, and her strong family relationships.

Sanya Richards (Austin, TX), deemed, "The World's Fastest Woman," has found precious medals both on and off the field. She was engaged to New York Giants cornerback (and Super Bowl champion) Aaron Ross in December 2007. The proposal was an unexpected surprise in the middle of a New York Giants-Washington Redskins Sunday Night Football game. An NBC camera, filling for its Olympics coverage, caught Ross asking Richards to marry him. She, of course, offered a resounding, "Yes." The couple has yet to announce a wedding date but revealed that the ceremony would take place in her hometown of Austin, TX. Between training and wedding planning, Richards also finds the time to volunteer for the American Behcet's Disease Association.

Dwight Phillips (Snellville, GA), a long jumper, recovered from two badly broken legs at the age of 14 to go on to win a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In his spare time, he experiments with photography and has stepped into a completely new role as manager of an emerging hip-hop band.

Bryan Clay (Glendora, CA), was once a rebellious teenager, but his success in sports and acceptance of the Christian faith has led him to an incomparable work ethic, commitment to excellence and unwavering integrity. He has established the Bryan Clay Foundation which provides student-athletes with academic and athletic scholarships, and is providing high school physical education departments with equipment and improved facilities.

The Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games in Beijing will be held on 8.8.08.

For comprehensive Olympic athlete coverage and a full broadcast schedule,

visit NBC Olympics

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