This post is part of our series on people, places and things finding new life in 2008.
The upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics could provide a bully pulpit for Americans who want to prove that athletes can continue to compete on a world level far longer than once thought possible. By employing cutting edge training techniques, Dara Torres, Paul Hamm and Blaine Wilson hope to come away with some Olympic hardware.
Torres first swam in the Olympics 24 years ago, and already owns nine medals. Yet late last year, at the age of 40 and only 15 months after giving birth to her first child, she established a new U.S. record in the 50 meter freestyle and won the national 100 m freestyle championship.
Paul Hamm is much younger than Torres, but after a thrilling finish in the 2004 Olympics where he recovered from a faux pas on the vault to win the gold, he took over two years away from the sport. Now Hamm's desire is back, and he is on the hunt for more five-ringed medals. His recent victory at the Winter Cup showed that he is still the man to beat.
Fellow Ohio State gymnast Blaine Wilson, at 33, won a place on the 2008 U.S. Men's Gymnastics Team at the Winter Cup Challenge, giving him a leg up toward competing in his fourth Olympics. In 2004 he was part of the Silver Medal-winning team. At an age when most gymnasts have retired from this grueling sport, Wilson is shooting for the podium.
As a gray hair, I'll be cheering on these three. As long as the broadcast isn't after my bedtime.