All in the Family — U.S. Athletes Talk about Ties to Their Family and Sport

All in the Family — U.S. Athletes Talk about Ties to Their Family and Sport
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All in the Family — U.S. Athletes Talk about Ties to Their Family and Sport

Jenny Johnson Jordan has always had the support of her father — Olympic great Rafer Johnson. John Roethlisberger has a complex relationship with his coach, who also happens to be his dad. Marion Jones likes just relaxing with husband — and Olympic shot putter — C.J. Hunter. Steven Lopez doesn't get in trouble for beating up on his siblings, who are fellow taekwondo competitors. Iris Zimmerman hates when her sister — and fellow Olympic fencer — foils her plans. Troy Dumais thinks that, together, he and his brother make a pretty good diving team. Annett Davis has a hard time sharing quality time with her husband — an Olympic hopeful in swimming. David O'Connor and his wife — a fellow Olympic equestrian team member — take the good with the bad. Karen O'Connor met an interesting equestrian competitor and decided to marry him.

Nobody understands exactly what it takes to become an Olympic athlete quite like someone who has sweated and fretted along with that athlete every step of the way. Especially if the other person sweating and fretting is a member of the family. Or, better yet, a family member who has been there before. When the United States sends its team to the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, it will be a true family affair for several Americans.

We've heard a lot about the amazing Clark family, which will send sisters Joetta Clark-Diggs and Hazel Clark, as well as their sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark to represent the U.S. in the 800. But there are others.Sometimes it's dad pushing the athlete along.

Sometimes it's a spouse or a sibling. Whatever it is, for these 2000 Olympians, family ties make all the difference in the world. "He really supports me in all my athletic endeavors," beach volleyball player Jenny Johnson Jordan says of her dad. "To me, that's the greatest influence he can have on me."

Rafer Johnson — for this Olympics, he'll be known as Jenny's dad — may be best known for the gold medal he won in the decathlon at the 1960 games in Rome. He lit the flame at the opening ceremonies at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, too, and serves on the board of directors for the Special Olympics. Though Johnson has said he finds it difficult to watch his children in athletic events, others who have family members competing in world-class events get much closer.

Husband and wife David and Karen O'Connor not only train together, they sometimes compete against each other in equestrian events. That gets a little strange at times. "You have good weekends, you have bad weekends," David says. "We have a long-term look at it, so one individual [competition] is not going to make or break your career. That makes a big difference."

Fencer Iris Zimmerman knows how O'Connor feels. She has competed against her older sister Felicia in foil for years. "It's hard, because neither of us wants to win, but neither of us wants to lose. So we both feel badly, the person who wins, and the person who loses," Iris says. "It's hard to think of each other as opponents, to really watch each other and want to strategize against each other. It's a difficult situation for both of us."

Still, most athletes who rely on their family say the relationships work out well, even when direct competition is involved. Steven Lopez, a featherweight in the Taekwondo competition in Sydney, is coached by his older brother Jean. Steven also was on the 1999 U.S. National Team with his younger brother, Mark. His sister, Diana, is also involved in the sport. Those family ties make him a better competitor, he insists. "I think that's what we have that other people don't have. The support of each other, the strength that we draw from each other," Steven says. "Ultimately, it's love. That's what I think gives us the strength to go on and be better than anyone else in our divisions."

Gymnast John Roethlisberger is coached by his dad, Fred, a member of the 1968 Olympic team. The younger Roethlisberger readily admits that his relationship with his coach makes things different. "It's definitely different than with another coach. Your relationship with your father, just by itself, is different than a relationship with someone else," John says. "But it's been great. We've obviously had our tough times, just like any coach and athlete do. But in the long run,

it's definitely been by far the best thing for me and I think he's enjoyed it as well."

Maybe the most famous of the current family of American Olympic athletes is track star Marion Jones, who will be gunning for five gold medals in Sydney. Her husband is no slouch, either. He is C.J. Hunter, the reigning world champion in the shot put. They will carry on a tradition started by skiers Andrea Mead-Lawrence and her husband, David, who became the first American husband-wife combo to compete in the same Olympics back in 1952. Jones, married to Hunter in 1998, says she's just doing what comes naturally. "We enjoy family. We enjoy each other," Jones says. "We're a normal married couple. We just happen to both be world champions."


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  • 来源:外教社 2015-07-17