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The Game Face

With Beijing just around the corner, U.S. athletes are reading their bodies and minds for intense competition. Five Americans aiming for the podium share their insight, motivation into living your own gold medal life. 

Laura Wilkinson, 30
DIVING

Laura Wilkinson brought home a gold medal from the 1998 Goodwill Games and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, ending a 36-year drought in U.S. women’s diving.

Advice: “The most important thing is to never give up. We’re all going to have those rough days, those hard days. You just have to really believe. People have always doubted me and laughed at me, but I never gave up. By persevering, you may surprise yourself, but you will astound others.”

Michael Phelps, 22
SWIMMING

Michael Phelps earned four individual world records and seven gold medals at the 2007 World Championships. At the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Phelps won eight medals, including six gold.

Advice: “I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything. I want to be able to look back and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can, and I was successful.’ I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I should have done this or that.’ You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

Sue Bird, 27
BASKETBALL

Sue Bird was a member of the gold-medal-winning 2002 U.S. Women’s World Championship Team in China. In 2004, she and the U.S. Women’s team brought home the gold medal from the Olympic Games in Athens.

Advice: “One trait I do have is to always try to lead by example. I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by some great people who I’ve learned from. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!”

Rebecca Giddens, 30
KAYAKING

A veteran whitewater slalom kayaker, Rebecca Giddens won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She won the 2002 Whitewater Slalom World Championships and won a bronze medal in the 2003 World Championships. Rebecca also won the 2000 World Cup series and placed seventh in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Quote: “I always try to go back and remind myself why I got into the sport. Before I have a run, I have to remember that I do this because I love it. I am a strong believer in living each day to the fullest and not taking things for granted. I feel like I should break [a medal] up into a ton of pieces and give it to everyone who has helped me get here so they can all have a piece of it.”

DaMarcus Beasley, 25
SOCCER

DaMarcus Beasley has emerged as an offensive force and was a pivotal member in the U.S.A.’s qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, tying for third place in goals scored.

“I often used to think about a game until just before the whistle. I’ve got a stronger mental approach than I had two years ago. And once the whistle blows, you don’t think about opponents; just winning and doing everything to get you to that target of winning.”

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