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35 Olympic athletes share their personal stories, including: Dominique Moceanu, gymnastics: She overcame her share of adversity and then grew almost a foot after winning Olympic gold in 1996, which required her to relearn all the basics before starting a comeback attempt for 2000. Mike Collier, diving: Not recruited out of high school, he "recruited himself" to Indiana, but a car accident broke both his legs and wrists during his senior year of high school. Kristine Quance-Julian, swimming: When she and her husband became unexpectedly pregnant, she thought her swimming career was over. Eight months after giving birth she was once again a national champion - and a very happy mother. Akhnaten Spencer-El, fencing: After several run-ins with the law after "hanging out" with friends in Harlem, he turned to fencing and turned his life around in the process. Sheila Taormina, swimming/triathlon: She trained with her hometown swim club, which included elementary and middle school-age kids and won gold in 1996. Dean Hutchinson, swimming: A tumor in his lung took him out of swimming for a full season, but with two-thirds of a lung he continues to pursue his dream. Melanie Kosoff-Roach, weightlifting: An injury ended a gymnastics career but sparked an interest in weightlifting. Mark Reynolds, sailing: An Olympic medal-winning sailor who learned from his father and Dennis Conner. Karen Smyers, triathlon: Glass tore apart her hamstring, and after she recovered and had a child, she was back in top form, only to be hit by an 18-wheel semi-truck during training. Lecky Haller, canoe/kayaking: Competing well past what many would consider "prime" years, his love for the sport keeps him going. Tammie Spatz-Stone, swimming: A very rare disease caused her to lose the ability to walk as a child, but she pushed forward, relearned walking, and is a top swimmer. Yoichi Tomita, gymnastics: He courageously left Japan - and its Olympic program - to chase opportunity in the United States, arriving with only a handful of change and a big dream. Steve Brown, curling: He promoted and excelled in a sport that has just recently started to get attention, and coached his daughter on the U.S. Olympic Curling team. Jenny Lingamfelter, diving: The loss of her father caused her to re-evaluate her goals and diving career, but she pressed on and reached new heights with a new perspective and focus. Chad Carvin, swimming: A heart abnormality and back injury took him out of the loop for a while, but he's come back more determined than ever. Ruthie Bolton-Holifield, basketball: Losing her mother and father only reaffirmed her belief in doing things the right way, and after Olympic gold she became a pioneer for women's pro basketball in the WNBA. Peter Newton, canoe/kayaking: Success came quickly, but as he put in more years, he filled in all the holes and learned to compete at an even higher level. Dod Wales, swimming: He won the same event his father did 32 years earlier at the NCAA Championships and hopes to duplicate his father's Olympic-medal winning performance. Mary Lee Tracy, gymnastics: A former NFL cheerleader, she returned to her hometown gym and bought it eventually, coaching the Olympic team as an assistant in 1996. Bill Pilczuk, swimming: He ended Alexander Popov's seven-year unbeaten streak and graduated with honors from Auburn after being a Proposition 48 casualty coming out of high school. Tim DeBoom, triathlon: Hit by a car while training in Arizona, this former West Point Cadet knows all about perseverance and hard work. Anita Nall, swimming: She bypassed her college eligibility and also qualified for the Olympics at age 15, but a strange illness went undiagnosed for years by doctors who thought she might have some sort of mental illness. Once correctly diagnosed, she came back to try for the Olympics again, only this time is enjoying the process even more. Paul Podgorski, canoe/kayaking: A brave defection ! ! from Poland landed the former Polish National team member in the U.S. John Smith, wrestling: The six-time world champion. Stacy Sykora, volleyball: Coming from modest beginnings, she worked hard to find a place for herself in college and then learned a new position to make the U.S. National Team. Jon Olsen, swimming: Scoliosis in his back might have altered the growth path of his spine but it did nothing to keep him from winning Olympic gold. Jaycie Phelps, gymnastics: A genetic condition in her knees ended her career at just 18 years old, but she went out on top - with an Olympic gold medal in 1996. Tom Sorensen, volleyball: Raised in Wisconsin, he didn't know if the "West Coast" volleyball ranks had room for someone from the Heartland. So he made his own place and then made the Olympic team. Kay Poe, tae kwon do: Small in size only, the world's No. 1 ranked athlete in her weight class enjoys the tactical aspects of her bouts. Bradley Schumacher, swimming: Told he didn't have a shot at the 1996 Olympic water polo team, he won Olympic gold in swimming and attempted to do both sports in 2000. Lisa Schoeneberg, curling: She put her life on hold to represent the U.S. in a which was relatively unknown.. Jason Torres, tae kwon do: A broken jaw at one world meet and a broken foot at another proved to be just bumps on the road of his Olympic journey. Jason Lezak, swimming: Thrown off of his college swimming team, he learned to be a part of a team and to be a leader as he chased his Olympic goals. Kara Salmela, biathlon: In a sport that is just starting to get recognition, she learned what it took to put the U.S. on the world stage in the Scandinavian-dominated sport. Mike Peplinski, curling: He competed at the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 despite needing a kidney transplant. When he came back, his mother - the potential donor - was ruled out, and as the seconds ticked away, the gift of life came from an unexpected source.
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