UW-MADISON ALUMNUS GIVES GLIMPSE OF OLYMPIC PREPARATION
MADISON - With the 2008 Olympics only few days away, the United States athletes are putting in their final practices, backing their bags and heading off China to compete in the games of their lives. This roster of top athletes includes some former Badgers who will be representing the red, white and blue in rowing, wrestling and track.
(Media-Newswire.com) - MADISON - With the 2008 Olympics only few days away, the United States athletes are putting in their final practices, backing their bags and heading off China to compete in the games of their lives. This roster of top athletes includes some former Badgers who will be representing the red, white and blue in rowing, wrestling and track.
University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni Beau Hoopman and Micah Boyd will compete in men's rowing, while Matt Tegencamp will compete in track. Former Badgers Matt Imes and Lee Kemp will also attend the games as coaches, the former in rowing, the latter in wrestling.
Hoopman, who is in China, took time from his Olympic preparation to answer questions about what it is like for a Badger in the Olympics.
Q: What was it like being on the Badger rowing team?
A: "Rowing for Wisconsin was the most valuable experience of my life. I learned a great deal from my coaches about what it takes to be a good rower and a good student-athlete. The training was quite comparable to national team training, which helped the transition to elite rowing."
Q: Did anything you learned as a Badger help you make it to the Olympics?
A: "[Head men's rowing] Coach [Chris] Clark is always a great source of token advice, not only for rowing, but also for life in general. He always made light of the fact that everything was always stacked against us, and it is in some way. We [UW-Madison] recruit people like me, who've never heard of the sport before, and turn them in to Olympic-caliber athletes in four years. We hardly ever get to row since the water is frozen most of the school year. We expect to win, even though we race against teams that are more skilled and more experienced simply, because we push each other within the team so hard that there is no give, there's only what we take."
Q: What has training been like before the Olympics?
A: "Training for any sport is difficult. When you get as old as I am, it's harder to stay with the young guys fresh out of college. And yes, 27 is old in this sport. As for the diet, I eat what I feel like eating, no matter how much trans fat or carbonation it has in it. I'm not a good barometer for diet though. I love junk food."
Q: Now that you are in China, what is your day-to-day life like?
A: "We're sticking to our same training schedule for the first week or so, rowing about 16 kilometers per practice twice a day, then we'll start tapering, which just means more rest. The diet is entirely up to the hotel chef. So far it's been a mix of Chinese cuisine and some more familiar food like scrambled eggs and pasta and meat sauce."
Q: What is China like?
A: "It's different, but it's very interesting. The people are very polite, so I feel kinda like a brutish jerk when I open my mouth. I think the country is very excited to show everyone how it's done. It's so well organized it's almost frightening, but in a good way."
Q: What are you most looking forward to at the Olympics? What will be your biggest challenge?
A: "Racing and racing."
Q: Why do you love rowing?
A: "I enjoy racing. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the people I row for and with; I don't love rowing. Anyone who's rowed can tell you there is no love between a rower and rowing. We punish ourselves through rigorous training so we can hold on longer and push harder than our competition."
Q: Do you have any concerns with the United States competing in the Olympics considering China's human rights violations?
A: "I'm just here to race. If the [U.S. Olympic Committee] said we're boycotting, I'd be disappointed, but I'm sure there'd be a reason. I don't really think about the politics involved, I just pull on an oar, sit on my duff and go backwards, because that's what I know how to do."
Q: Do you think the connections made between athletes during the Olympics can solve any of these political problems?
A: "That's entirely up to everyone else's interpretation. I know that while I'm here, I'm going to meet new friends and be as friendly as possible to everyone, because that's what the Olympics are about: meeting new people and cultures and accepting them, even if it's only for one month."
Q: What do you plan to do after the Olympics?
A: "Retire along with my father. He's got until November though. Maybe cut down some of the dead trees on our land since he's too lazy to do it himself. Beyond that, I haven't really stopped to think about it. Might row, might coach, might mow lawns for a living for all I know."
Q: Is there anything else you would like people to know about your journey to the Olympics?
A: "Four years, countless hours of practice, thousands and thousands of miles rowed ... all for five and a half minutes."
Hoopman graduated from UW-Madison in 2003 with a degree in biological aspects of conservation. He will be competing in the rowing men's eight, which starts on Sunday, Aug. 10. ### - Niki Fritz, ( 608 ) 262-2650, firstname.lastname@example.org
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