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US Olympians Train At Colorado Center


The U.S. Olympic Training Center -- located in Colorado Springs, Colorado -- trains American athletes for the world games and is also where the U.S. Olympic Committee is headquartered. Producer Roger Hsu visited the training center and has this report narrated by Elaine Lu.

The US Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs sits at the base of the famous Pike's Peak Mountain in Colorado. It was converted from a former Air Force base, which was closed in 1976.

Mike English, the Center's director, explains how the idea of an Olympic Training Center was born. "Really, the history of Olympic training centers in the world evolve from a lot of Communist countries, Russia and East Germans, for instance. With their presence and emerging talents that occurred throughout the '50s, '60s and certainly into the '70s, the Western countries got together and really wanted to understand what was going on with the sports powers that were emerging, and they realized that there was a need for more of a centralized training concept. So the United States Olympic committee and the Congress actually asked and put together a plan and strategy to develop the training center concept for the United States."

Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center is one of three Olympic training centers in the U.S., and the most prominent.

English says, "Colorado Springs is the flagship of the training centers. It is presently about 500 beds. It is the largest housing facility we have. It has 27 buildings here in Colorado Springs. We have multi-purpose gyms."

The Training Center boasts two Olympic Sports Centers, each over 5,000 square meters in size. They can accommodate the training requirements for more than a dozen Olympic and Pan American sports. The Aquatic Center houses a 50-meter by 25-meter swimming pool with 30 lanes. Some of the best swimmers and water polo players in the U.S. are trained here.

Kelly Coffman is with media relations for the US Olympic Committee shows off the center. "This is where all the athletes come, train, live, do everything, get their meals. And computer's provided," she said.

The young athletes train up to twelve hours a day, six days a week. This intense training produces fierce appetites.

Coffman guides us on a tour. "This is the entrance into the dinning facility. You can see it's self-serve, it's all you can eat, which is good for the athletes who have to carb up and have to eat."

The Center's dining room is open seven days a week from 7:00 in the morning till 8:30 in the evening to provide the fuel needed by the athletes.

The housing, dining and recreational needs for up to 550 coaches and athletes are an enormous expense. But the Olympic Center is not government funded -- says Doug Ingram, the Managing Director of Performance Services. "We do have our vast majority of our funding, in fact, almost 100 percent of it comes from corporate America as well as American citizens through private donations and things of that nature, through sponsorships."

The U.S. Olympic Training Center is one of the few in the world that does not receive government funding. Yet this has not hampered its ability to churn out some of the best athletes to represent the United States in the Olympic games.

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