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Amy Van Dyken

Road To A Second Olympics

After Atlanta, Van Dyken took some time off for a honeymoon with then husband Alan McDaniel and earned money from product endorsements. But she soon resumed training and won two gold medals at the World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, early in 1998. That June, however, she had the first of two shoulder surgeries to repair injuries and a bone spur. After the second surgery in January 2000, doctors told her she would never swim competitively again. She proved them wrong.

Van Dyken qualified for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and there won two more gold medals-one as part of the women's 400-meter freestyle relay and the other for her performance in swimming preliminaries of the 400-meter medley relay. On her team in the 400 freestyle were Americans Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres, and Courtney Shealy. The team broke the world record for the event, with a time of 3:36.61 (the former record, 3:37.91, was set by a Chinese team in 1994). Van Dyken placed fourth in the 50-meter freestyle race, which she had won in 1996.

After bringing home her sixth Olympic gold medal, in the fall of 2000, Van Dyken announced her retirement from swimming. By the following year, however, she had turned her attention to a new sport, the triathlon, which combines swimming, biking, and running in what can be the most grueling of sports. She competed in triathlons beginning in June 2001, with the possible goal of competing in the Hawaiian Ironman-a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run-in 2003.

Amy Van Dyken has proved that athletic ability and a drive to succeed can help overcome many physical obstacles. In 2000 she participated in an asthma education campaign, the Asthma All-Stars, cosponsored by five medical and respiratory organizations. An outcast in her own early high school years, she has also been active in helping the survivors of the 1999 Columbine (Colorado) High School shootings, participating in school events and talking one-on-one with students. Her four gold medals and record-breaking 50-meter race in the 1996 Olympics put Van Dyken into the Olympic history books. Her spunk and competitive drive have won many fans and supporters along the way, and they continue to cheer her on in her quest for victory in the triathlon.

Van Dyken Is Toughing It Out

[Amy] Van Dyken, who hopes to make it back from major shoulder injuries …, has raised the pre-race psyche-job to an art form. She will do just about anything she can think of within legal limits—or nearly so—to distract and demoralize foes just before the start of races. The imposing 6-footer will grunt, spit into the opponents' lane, stick out her tongue at them, clap her hands or simply lock on with a cold, Mike Tyson-style stare.

Source: Harris, Stephen. Boston Herald (May 28, 2000): B2.

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