Sheila is a fierce competitor; there is no doubt about it. When she sets a goal, she goes after it with dogged determination. How determined? More determined than anyone, as no other woman in history has gone to the Olympic Games in three different sports.
I'm told one male has gone to the Games in three sports, but I need to verify this. I'll do some research and get back to you.
Sheila's Olympic travels began when she won a gold medal in the 1996 Games in swimming. In these Atlanta Games she swam the third leg of the 800-meter freestyle relay race for the United States. Her journey continued when she qualified for the 2000 and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic teams. (Most of you know triathlon is swimming, cycling and running.) Sheila placed sixth in the triathlon in Sydney, 2000 and 23rd in Athens, 2004.
For the 2008 Beijing Games, Sheila is competing in the sport of modern pentathlon. What is pentathlon? Competitors earn points for their performances in each of the five disciplines: pistol shooting, epee fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and cross-country running. As we get closer to the Games, I'll detail more on the sport of pentathlon.
ESPN's Carrie Sheinberg wrote a great column on Sheila that can be found here.
Sheila is one of eight children. Her family is top priority for her. Prior to past Olympic Games, Sheila sold t-shirts to help finance travel to the Games for a few family members. She is doing it again, but this time the t-shirt has special meaning. It is part of history.
Sheila's sister Sudee designed the shirt. The t-shirt design includes the flags of all four countries that have hosted the four Olympics in which Sheila has competed. They are a backdrop within the design, so you should see the flags for the USA, Australia, Greece, and China. Also, all five sports of the modern pentathlon included in the design. Take note how the fencer's bell-guard is also the target for the shooter.
Now, for a bit of extra effort on your part (writing a check and sending an order form in the ordinary mail system) you can get the shirt directly from Sheila's family, have it signed by Sheila if you wish and get a certificate of authenticity.
If you are not currently on the home page for this blog, click on the title of the blog. At the bottom of the blog you will find an attachment that is the order form for the t-shirt.
I'm happy to help Sheila and her family.
I traveled to many events on the ITU World Cup circuit with Shiela, we had a lot of good laughs. In the coming weeks, I'll share some of the stories and a few behind-the-scenes photos. Below is a photo of Sheila relaxing on the curb in front of our house after the 2004 Olympic Triathlon event.