Meet Team USA (cont.)
Eric Shanteau, swimming. In June, a week before the start of the U.S. trials in his sport, Shanteau, a 24-year-old from Lilburn, Ga., was told by his doctors that he had testicular cancer. They cleared him to swim at the trials, where he unexpectedly made the team, edging close friend, world-record holder and University of Texas-based training partner Brendan Hansen for second place in the 200-meter breaststroke. Shanteau, whose cancer was detected early, will have weekly blood tests and CT scans and -- unless doctors see a worsening of his condition -- will compete in Beijing.
DOWN THE AISLE
Before Matt Reed married fellow triathlete Kelly Rees in 2003, he helped nurse her back to health after she was struck by a 15-ton construction truck while biking in Boulder, Colo.
Triathlete Hunter Kemper went on his first date with future wife Val the day she was cut from the 2000 U.S. Olympic volleyball team.
Casey Burgener (whose berth on the team is pending) proposed to fellow weightlifter Natalie Woolfolk while the two were riding an elephant after last year's world championships in Thailand. The pair plans to marry in California this fall.
After Matt Emmons lost a gold medal at the 2004 Games by firing his final 50-meter rifle shot at the wrong target, Czech shooter Katy Kurkova came over to offer sympathy and was impressed with the way he handled the disappointment. The pair married last year in the Czech Republic.
Natasha Kai, soccer. The Hawaii native's 19 tattoos include hibiscus flowers, the Hawaiian Islands, turtles, her initials written in a tribal language and the names of assorted family members. Greco-Roman wrestler Jake Deitschler has Chinese characters that translate to "God, wrestler warrior" tattooed under his right armpit.
Nine active members of the military qualified for the shooting team. In addition, modern pentathlete Eli Bremer (nephew of L. Paul Bremer, the former head of U.S. rebuilding efforts in Iraq), is a reservist after having served as an Air Force captain; Greco-Roman wrestler Dremiel Byers is an Army staff sergeant; Greco teammate Adam Wheeler spent five years in the Coast Guard; and fencer Seth Kelsey is a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Judoka Adler Volmar, a onetime Navy medic, served as a bodyguard last year in the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. When Volmar was growing up in Haiti his father worked briefly as a driver for that country's then dictator, François Duvalier.
Bryan Volpenhein, rowing. After winning gold as a member of the men's eights boat at the 2004 Athens Games, Volpenhein took a year off to attend culinary school in Seattle. He cooks for teammates and provides a monthly recipe to the U.S. Rowing website, which posts video of him preparing it.
DON'T BLAME HIM
Point guard Jason Kidd, who played in the Sydney Games but missed Athens, is the only player on the men's basketball team who is one-for-one in gold medals.
Based on 2007-08 salaries, that would be Kidd, who earned $19.728 million, just ahead of the $19.491 million taken home by Kobe Bryant. By contrast, a typical athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs receives free room and board and a monthly stipend between $1,000 and $3,000.
A LITTLE EXTRA
The USOC will pay athletes bonuses of $25,000 for every gold medal they win, $15,000 for every silver and $10,000 for every bronze.
The colleges with the most team members (current students or alums) are Stanford (31), UCLA (19), USC (19), Texas (17), Cal (14) and North Carolina (13).
Valerie Gotay, judo. At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Gotay, then 18, became seriously ill (she thinks from cutting weight for the 106-pound class) and couldn't compete. Plagued by medical problems for two years, she retired. She has since married, had two daughters, separated and returned to judo, building a gym in her barn in Harlingen, Texas. In June she made her second Olympic team -- 16 years after her first -- at 125 pounds.
The five-member archery team has a five-time Olympian (Butch Johnson), a four-time Olympian (Khatuna Lorig), a three-time Olympian (Vic Wunderle), a two-time Olympian (Jennifer Nichols) and a first-time Olympian (Brady Ellison).
The tennis team has two sets of siblings: identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's No. 2-ranked men's doubles team, and Venus and Serena Williams, the 2000 doubles champs.
Shawn Estrada, the middleweight boxer, has 15 siblings and half-siblings.
Team USA includes athletes who were born in 28 other countries. These 36 Olympians include:
Bernard Lagat, the world 1,500- and 5,000-meter champ, who won two Olympic medals for Kenya before becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004.
Lopez Lomong, a 1,500-meter runner and one of the Lost Boys of Sudan; he was separated from his family when fleeing militia members at age six and spent a decade in a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the U.S. in 2001 with the help of an aid group.
Bob Malaythong, badminton, who came to the U.S. from Laos in 1989 at age eight with his sister and mother; he eventually worked as a dishwasher, cookie baker and burrito maker to support himself. His badminton teammates Eva Lee and Howard Bach were born in Hong Kong and Vietnam, respectively.
NOT GOING DUTCH
Determined to be a U.S. Olympian someday, backstroker Matt Grevers, then 19, turned down an offer to switch countries and swim for the Netherlands, birthplace of his parents, in the Athens Games. The gamble paid off: At this year's U.S. trials Grevers, an underdog, out-touched star Ryan Lochte in the 100 back to earn a berth in Beijing.
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
The men's soccer team has Ghanaian-born Freddy Adu, Brazilian-born Benny Feilhaber and Scottish-born Stuart Holden, but it failed to land U.S.-born Giuseppe Rossi. The gifted 21-year-old striker, who grew up in Clifton, N.J., as the son of Italian immigrants, has dual citizenship and decided to play for Italy.
The U.S. now has top-level foreign-born coaches in many of the 28 Summer Olympic sports. While Romanian-born women's gymnastics team director Martha Karolyi (wife of former Olympic coach Bela) may be better known to American fans, the head coach with the biggest global following is women's volleyball's "Jenny" Lang Ping, who starred for China's gold-medal team at the 1984 Games and remains a national hero in her homeland.