SAN RAMON, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Following weeks of wonder and anticipation, 50 athletes have been invited to participate in the final phase of “Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful,” which will be held at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from July 25-28. The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s talent-identification program aims to build the pipeline of world-class athletes pursuing Olympic sport. More than 4,800 individuals submitted online applications to the USOPC’s website, while in partnership with 24 Hour Fitness, tryouts were held exclusively in clubs nationwide that resulted in five athletes advancing to the final phase as part of the 50-athlete talent pool.
The five talented athletes who advanced through 24 Hour Fitness in-club tryouts are:
- Leah Fair-from South Carolina, currently residing in Seattle near the 24 Hour Fitness® location for Next Olympic Hopeful tryouts. As a former 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer, she always dreamt of becoming an Olympic athlete and became a competitive high school track athlete. She earned a No. 1 state ranking, was named South Carolina’s Athlete of the Year and earned a full scholarship to Colorado State University. To continue her track career after college, Leah moved to Seattle. Following an ankle injury, she renewed her training. “I was thrilled to get the call,” Leah said when the USOPC notified her that she was a Next Olympic Hopeful finalist. “I can’t wait to show everyone the result of all of my training.”
- Re’Quan Harley-originally from Washington D.C. and resides in Los Angeles where he traveled to the 24 Hour Fitness Downey club for Next Olympic Hopeful tryouts. A natural athlete and personal trainer, he’s always had an interest in becoming an Olympic athlete. As a high-school runner, he broke school records, qualified for national championships and received a full scholarship to California State University, Northridge, where he competed as a decathlete. A hamstring injury during competition put his Olympic athlete goals on hold. Re-committing to training led to his tryout. “As the oldest of six, my siblings look up to me. I want to be a good role model and show them that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Re’Quan said when learning he was a Next Olympic Hopeful finalist.
- Christian Perez-from Washington Heights, NY, where he took part in Next Olympic Hopeful tryouts at the 24 Hour Fitness Valley Stream club. As a lifelong resident of Washington Heights, it was easy to get caught up in the street life. His mother encouraged him to choose differently, and he became involved in sports throughout his school age years. Originally on a path to become an NFL player, injuries caused him to rethink his goal. Now, focused on finishing his college degree, he modified his training schedule. “I was really surprised when I got the news about becoming a Next Olympic Hopeful finalist,” Christian stated. “I was at Bible study when I found out. Everyone in the class was excited!”
- Deana Richardson-from San Antonio, Texas drove three hours to Katy, Texas for The Next Olympic Hopeful tryouts taking place at the 24 Hour Fitness club. Competing at the highest athletic level has always been a dream for Deana. A multi-sport athlete who ran track and played volleyball in high school, Deana went to college on a track scholarship and works professionally as a personal trainer. A friend was named a 2018 Next Olympic Hopeful finalist and Deana’s interest was piqued. “It seemed like a long shot, and I didn’t expect this at all,” she said upon hearing the news from the USOPC that she was a Next Olympic Hopeful finalist. “I can’t wait to see where this takes me.”
- Kelli Vandermoer-originally from Union City, CA, is a 24 Hour Fitness personal trainer in Sacramento who drove two hours to San Jose where The Next Olympic Hopeful tryouts took place at 24 Hour Fitness. Standing six feet tall, she was recruited in high school for a number of sports and joined the track team, becoming a high jump champion. A car accident derailed her athletic plans until a local college track coach became her mentor/coach to this day. Her father was a competitive athlete and Kelli dreams of following in his footsteps, receiving the call from the USOPC on the two-year anniversary of her father’s passing. “I wasn’t expecting this, but I always believed in myself and dreamed this would be possible,” she said after learning that she was a Next Olympic Hopeful finalist.
These athletes will be put through intensive screening and sport-specific training by the USOPC and the six participating National Governing Body’s high performance staff and will also receive guidance from a 24 Hour Fitness Silver-Certified USOPC personal trainer, Sam Taylor, who will be on-site. The journey will be highlighted on Team USA social and digital channels and the entire program, including announcement of the winners, will be featured in the USOPC Productions’ documentary airing on NBC on December 29, “Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful.”
The quest to find the Next Olympic Hopeful will ultimately find one winner for each participating sport who will be invited to join the national team camps of six sports: bobsled, cycling, rowing, rugby, skeleton and weightlifting.
About The USOPC
Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. The USOPC is focused on protecting, supporting and empowering America’s athletes and is responsible for fielding U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, and serving as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S. For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.
About 24 Hour Fitness
Celebrating 35 years as an industry leader, 24 Hour Fitness transforms lives every day through fitness. Conveniently located clubs, furnished with a wide variety of strength, cardio and functional training equipment, are the perfect environment for fitness professionals to deliver dynamic personal and group training programs. GX24® and cycle studios feature a popular array of live Studio classes included with membership. A multitude of additional offerings engage and inspire every member to lead a full and healthy life both inside and outside of the club. Opening new clubs on average at the brisk pace of one every few weeks, 24 Hour Fitness is headquartered in San Ramon, CA and serves nearly 4 million members in over 440 clubs nationwide. Please visit 24hourfitness.com or the 24GO app for more information and to find a club near you.