At the U.S Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, in the western state of Colorado, American athletes are honing their skills, as well as preparing their bodies and minds for an opportunity to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. For producer Roger Hsu, Elaine Lu introduces us to some of America's Olympic hopefuls.
Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth won her first competition when she was still a teenager. "I got involved in weightlifting, I think (it) was 1996, when I was 13 years old."
The two-time Olympian was the bronze medalist in her weight class at the 2000 Sydney games and hopes to represent the U.S. again next year in Beijing. "Living in an environment like this where you have so many amazing athletes around you, it's motivating," she says.
Weightlifter Casey Burgener won a silver medal in July's Pan American Games and hopes to qualify for his first Olympic games in 2008. "Whenever you have a bad day and you start to think about how far you've come along, everything you wanted to do, the Olympics has always kept me going and given me the motivation I need."
Being the best in the world takes more than hard work. Gymnast Yewki Tomita learned that when an injury kept him out of the 2004 Olympics. "That's the chance I am taking, that's a gamble we all take as athletes," he says. "We put our blood, sweat and tears into a path and sometime it works out great, we will make a team. But only six guys out of the entire country can make that team. So anything can happen, there is a lot of luck involved with it."
Training up to 12 hours a day, six days a week, is taxing -- physically and emotionally -- for these elite athletes.
"When you go to a competition and you make it look so easy and you win and you stand on the podium. That's like the needlepoint of what people see, that's a small aspect of sport, they don't see the hours and hours you keep falling on your face, falling on your face, falling on your face to learn a skill," said Tomita.
Despite the pain and hard work, Olympic hopefuls continue to train because, for many of them, the spirit of competition is about more than just winning.
Cheryl Haworth says, "I think the idea of that I dedicated my life to something and have done my best, I think is something to be proud of."
David Durante adds, "It's important to me not so much to win for America or for the United States but to perform at a level that's respected by the rest of the world."
"If I only thought about winning," Casey Burgener says, "then I don't think I would've really had the experience I had or the love of the sport that I have, and I do it because I love it, rather then doing it because I want to win."
Yet winning is the ultimate goal of all sports. And these athletes hope to have that opportunity at next year's Olympic games in Beijing.