SI Vault
 
MEET TEAM USA
Brian Cazeneuve
July 28, 2008
America's new set of Olympians, nearly 600 strong, hails from 47 of the 50 states and includes identical twins, soldiers, teenagers, a cancer patient, a 58-year-old CEO and the daughter of a Super Bowl champion
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 28, 2008

Meet Team Usa

America's new set of Olympians, nearly 600 strong, hails from 47 of the 50 states and includes identical twins, soldiers, teenagers, a cancer patient, a 58-year-old CEO and the daughter of a Super Bowl champion

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

The women's all-around gold could come down to a battle between SHAWN JOHNSON (left) and NASTIA LIUKIN (right), gymnastics' dream duo. Johnson, 16, is the reigning world champ; Liukin, 18, the daughter of two former Soviet gymnastics champions, has held the U.S. uneven bars title since 2004. Bitter rivals? Not quite. "We've always had a close relationship," says Liukin. "We're teammates and friends first." On the men's side, PAUL HAMM (center), the only U.S. man to win a world or Olympic all-around title, tries to defend his 2004 gold, assuming he can recover from a broken bone in his right hand suffered in May.

SOFTBALL

The U.S. has won all three golds since the sport joined the Games in 1996—and outfielder LAURA BERG (bottom row, fourth from left) has been on each of those squads. She should go 4 for 4 this year; Team USA is stacked. In 2004 third baseman CRYSTL BUSTOS (bottom row, far left) set Olympic records with five home runs and 10 RBIs. Ace CAT OSTERMAN (top row, third from left) pitched the title-clinching games at the 2006 worlds and '06 and '07 World Cups. The rotation also has JENNIE FINCH (bottom row, fifth from left) and MONICA ABBOTT (top row, fourth from left), who went 6--0 for the U.S. team last year and didn't allow a run. The full squad: (top row, left to right) catcher STACEY NUVEMAN, outfielder CAITLIN LOWE, Osterman, Abbott, third baseman VICKY GALINDO, outfielder JESSICA MENDOZA, infielder TAIRIA FLOWERS; (bottom row, left to right) Bustos, infielder ANDREA DURAN, catcher LAUREN LAPPIN, Berg, Finch, shortstop NATASHA WATLEY, outfielder KELLY KRETSCHMAN, second baseman LOVIEANNE JUNG. Because the IOC voted to drop softball from the Games after '08 (but will reconsider it next year), "we've got two things in mind: win gold and get softball in people's minds," Berg says. "There are 128 countries that play the sport. It is important the IOC sees that."

TRACK AND FIELD

Pro wrestling fan REESE HOFFA (second from left) used to wear a black mask to meets and call himself the Unknown Shot Putter. No more: By the end of the Games, Hoffa, who beat world champ Adam Nelson at the U.S. trials in Eugene, Ore., could be one of many household names on a team that should dominate. In Eugene, decathlete BRYAN CLAY (far left), the 2005 world champ, had the world's highest score in four years. ALLYSON FELIX (third from right) sprints for gold in the 200 meters and the 100- and 400-meter relays. Four years after taking up the pole vault, JENN STUCZYNSKI (second from right)—the leading career hoops scorer at NAIA Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y.—is already the U.S.-record holder and a gold contender. LASHAWN MERRITT (far right) upset reigning Olympic 400-meter champ Jeremy Wariner at the trials. And 110-meter hurdler TERRENCE TRAMMELL (third from left), a two-time Olympic silver medalist and part-time real estate speculator, will try to close the deal at his third Games.

SOCCER

HEATHER O'REILLY, KATE MARKGRAF and new coach PIA SUNDHAGE (left to right) lead a team with plenty of experience; eight members won gold in 2004. Team USA also has a huge hole to fill—top scorer Abby Wambach will miss the Games after breaking her left leg last week—and something to prove. The last time they visited China, the U.S. women, who are ranked No. 1 in the world, finished third in the 2007 World Cup.

TAEKWONDO

In 1983 Julio Lopez, a suburban Houston architect and a Chuck Norris fanatic, enrolled his eight-year-old son, Jean, in what he thought was a karate class. It was taekwondo, as it turned out, and the rest is history. Jean now coaches younger siblings MARK, DIANA and STEVEN LOPEZ (left to right), the first U.S. Olympic sibling trio since 1904. Steven is a two-time gold medalist; Mark and Diana will make their Games debuts.

JUDO
RONDA ROUSEY (far left) may have golden genes. Her mom, AnnMaria DeMars, is the only U.S. woman with a world judo title.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16