Meet Team USA (cont.)
Marcie Van Dusen, wrestling. In January the 121-pounder ended the 10-year, 119-match international winning streak of 2004 Olympic champ Saori Yoshida of Japan.
STATE OF THE STATES
Based on hometowns, California produced more members of Team USA (175) than any other state. The runners-up were Texas (44), Pennsylvania (28), Florida (27), New York (25), Washington (19), Illinois (17), Georgia (16), New Jersey (16) and Ohio (16). No team member is from Montana, North Dakota or West Virginia.
Brad Vering, Greco-Roman wrestling, grew up in Howells, Neb. (pop. 632).
ISLAND OF DEFENSE
The only men's water polo player not from California is goalkeeper Brandon Brooks of Hawaii. Including Brooks, the U.S.'s starting water polo goalie at five of the last six Olympics has been from Hawaii.
Melanie Roach, weightlifting. The 117-pounder -- one of 20 mothers on the team -- finally made her first Olympics at age 33. Roach set a world record of 250 pounds in the clean and jerk in 1998 but in 2000 suffered a seemingly career-ending herniated disk. Today, the former gymnast runs a gymnastics school in Sumner, Wash., with her husband, Dan, a four-term state representative. The couple has three kids, including a son who is autistic.
If the women's soccer team triumphs, midfielder Shannon Boxx and her sister, Gillian, a catcher on the '96 softball team, will be the first U.S. sisters to win gold in different sports.
T.C. Dantzler, Greco-Roman wrestling. The 37-year-old runs TC logiQ, a background-screening company that he founded in Colorado four years ago. The firm has grown from three employees to 23, and Dantzler plans to take it public in three years.
Cullen Jones, swimming, hopes to write for a men's fashion magazine such as GQ.
Amy Acuff, high jump, is studying to become an acupuncturist and a doctor of Oriental medicine.
Ben Wildman-Tobriner, swimming, majored in biomechanical engineering at Stanford and wants to be a surgeon.
Raynell Williams, boxing, plans to be an accountant.
Several baseball players are accustomed to the media spotlight. Outfielder Colby Rasmus batted .417 for the Phenix City, Ala., team that lost to Japan in the 1999 Little League World Series final. Lefthanded pitcher Clayton Richard played quarterback at Michigan. And power-hitting outfielder Matt LaPorta was the key prospect acquired by the Cleveland Indians from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 7 in exchange for the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabathia.
Sanya Richards, track. The 400-meter star wears a childhood gift from her mother: a necklace with a pendant of a bullet.
LIVING UP TO HIS REP
If sprinter Jeremy Wariner defends his title in the 400 in Beijing, he'll equal the feat of Michael Johnson, who won the 400 in 1996 and 2000 -- and is Wariner's manager.
ARTISTS AT WORK
Jill Kintner, a BMX cyclist from Seattle, graduated from California College of the Arts and has a website that showcases her sketches, action photography and graphic design skills. Women's water polo goalkeeper Jaime Hipp designs and sells her own line of jewelry.
LOST AND FOUND
Rebecca Ward, fencing. The 2006 sabre world champion was introduced to her sport at age nine when she went to the wrong place for a gymnastics practice in her hometown of Beaverton, Ore., and stumbled upon a fencing class instead.
Reese Hoffa, shot put, can solve a Rubik's Cube in 45 seconds.
Donny Robinson, BMX, performed in musical theater until age 17.
Pia Sundhage, women's soccer, is a guitarist who serenaded the U.S. players with The Times They Are A-Changin' when she took over as coach last year.
Shannon Rowbury, track, competed in Irish dancing before she became an elite miler.
David Neville, 400 meters, played drums in the Indiana University marching band for a year before joining the track team.
Scott Parsons, kayak, brews beer at his Bethesda, Md., home.
Georgia Gould, mountain biking, can juggle and ride a unicycle and auditioned for the Ringling Bros. circus three times; she never made the cut.
Not every member of the swim team was born a fish. Michael Phelps took his first lessons on his back because he was afraid to put his head underwater. The mother of Katie Hoff had to wash her daughter's hair as little as possible because Katie didn't like water either.
Leonel Manzano, who'll run the 1,500 meters in Beijing, stands 5' 5" but according to his doctors has a heart the size of a 7-foot man's. (They have told him it's the result of his intense training and is perfectly healthy.)
Kate (Tiki) Barber, field hockey captain, was given that handle when she was playing for North Carolina and the future NFL running back was at ACC rival Virginia.
Bershawn (Batman) Jackson, 400-meter hurdler, earned the moniker as a kid because he had big ears, but keeps using it because he now flies over the hurdles; he has the nickname on his license plate.
Michael (Meatball) Friedman, cycling, has -- as the name suggests -- an un-Lance-like physique.
World 200-meter-dash champion Allyson Felix, whose schoolmates at Los Angeles Baptist High used to call her Chicken Legs, was featured in both Vogue's Shape Issue and Glamour's 11 Greatest Bodies on Earth.
Dara Torres, swimming, worked as a reporter for ESPN and Fox News and hosted a sports segment on the Discovery Channel science and technology show The Next Stop.
Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, the reigning Olympic champions in beach volleyball, played themselves on an episode of CSI: Miami.
Shawn Crawford, the defending 200-meter gold medalist, raced a zebra and a giraffe on Fox's reality show Man vs. Beast. He beat the giraffe but lost to the zebra.
Softball pitcher Jennie Finch appeared on the celebrity edition of The Apprentice and was fired by Donald Trump in the fourth week.
Six team members -- softball players Vicky Galindo, Lauren Lappin, Jessica Mendoza and Stacey Nuveman, 15-year-old swimmer Elizabeth Beisel and race walker Philip Dunn -- were among the 130 international athletes who in June signed a letter to President George W. Bush, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other world leaders asking them to try to ensure that during the Games an Olympic truce is observed in Sudan, home to the violence-torn Darfur region. The letter was given to Bush by former Olympic speedskating champion Joey Cheek, the head of an international athletes' organization called Team Darfur.
Through appearances and promotion of a website (crohnsandme.com), sprint kayaker Carrie Johnson works to raise awareness of Crohn's Disease, a chronic and often debilitating inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract from which she and softball infielder Tairia Flowers (and an estimated 500,000 other Americans) suffer.
Ben Askren, wrestling. The former University of Missouri star is known for the long blond curls that he braids or styles into a mullet for matches. "I actually don't really like my hair that much, but I'm a man of realism, and I realize people like gimmicks," he says. "[In Beijing] my hair's going to be my gimmick. Hopefully, I'll get a sponsorship or two, maybe get some money out of having stupid, curly hair."
WHAT A DIFFERENCE
Anna Willard will compete in Beijing as the American-record holder in a new Olympic track event, the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Four years ago, during the Games in Athens, she was waiting tables at the Fish Monger in Woods Hole, Mass.
With reporting by Laura Bernheim, Emily Cunningham, David Epstein and Rebecca Sun