Better Know An Olympian V: Leprechaun In The Hood

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Opening Day Today!  If you want to check out the schedule of your favorite Olympian (coughJasonKiddcough), check it out here.  Otherwise, let's Learn!  About Cal, about the Olympics.  About the Official Beijing 2008 theme song!  About it all!


37. Shellie Onstead

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Shellie Onstead
Country: USA
Event: Women's Field Hockey Assistant Coach
Hometown: Berkeley, Calif.
Years at Cal: 1995-present

Now entering her 14th year as Cal's field hockey head coach, Shellie Onstead was the first All-American player for the Golden Bears, earning first-team honors in 1982. As coach of her alma mater, Onstead has compiled a 156-84 career record and has led Cal to seven conference titles. The six-time NorPac Coach of the Year has guided the Bears to two five NCAA Tournament appearances. She is one of the few females on the U.S. men's national team coaching staff and was the first woman ever to be named head coach of the men's under-16 national team at any age level. Onstead has also served as an assistant coach to the U.S. U-21 men's team and to the senior national team. She was elected into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Here is a thorough article about her life story:

Shellie Onstead has been affiliated with Cal field hockey for nearly 30 years, but her family's association with the school dates back more than half a century to when her father, Sheldon, was a member of the Golden Bear diving team in the mid-1950s.

Yet, growing up in San Jose, attending Cal for her collegiate experience didn't necessarily seem to be in the cards. Not only was the Onstead home near the Stanford campus, but her mother, Mona, earned her degree from The Farm and had an early influence on Shellie's rooting interests.

"My household as a child was crazy," Shellie said. "I was the youngest and only girl, so I sided with my mom as a Stanford fan, and my two brothers sided with my dad. We always had season tickets to Stanford football because there were several families on the block that were Stanford fans or grads. As a result, I grew up wanting to go to Stanford."

Outnumbered by Cal rooters in her own household, Mona encouraged Shellie to cheer for the Cardinal.

"I had her dressed in red and white all the time," Mona said. "At 3, she would have her pompons and sing the `Dirty Golden Bear' for company all the time. We were very connected to Stanford, sports-wise."

Luckily for Cal, Shellie didn't attend the university up the street. Instead, she enrolled at UC Davis for a year before transferring to Berkeley because of its field hockey program under then-head coach Donna Fong. Onstead helped Cal to three Top 5 national finishes, and in 1982, she became the first Golden Bear field hockey player to earn All-America honors.

Following a stellar playing career, Onstead, who graduated with a degree in physical education in 1983, continued her close association with the team. She served as an assistant until Fong's retirement in 1994, and this year marks her 13th season as head coach.

 

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Q+A with her:

CalBears.com: How do you expect the U.S. team will do in Beijing?

Onstead: "We're talking medals. I've never been around a U.S. team that talked that way. It's legit. I very much trust in the overall planning of our technical director, Terry Walsh, who's been involved in eight different Olympics Games. We just went on a tour that, results-wise, we didn't do that well in. But by the end of the tour we tied Holland, which is ranked No. 1 in the world.

"We have three more weeks of preparation and we like our chances. It's two pools of six and the top two will cross over in the medal round. You have to have a little bit of luck, and we're happy with our pool. We've beaten Argentina before. We've beaten Germany before. We've beaten Japan. It's going to be awesome. We're really hopeful, which is cool."

38. Heather Petri

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Heather Petri
Country: USA
Event: Women's water polo
Hometown: Orinda, CA
Height: 5-11
Years at Cal: 1997-99, 2001

Petri was Cal's 1999 and 2001 team captain and was second team all-MPSF, MPSF Tournament first team and earned first team All-National honors in 1999. The Orinda, Calif., product helped Team USA win gold at the 2007 World Championships, 2006 Holiday Cup and 2006 FINA World League. Petri tallied five goals during Super Final 2007 and guided the United States' women's water polo team to a gold medal with an 11-9 victory over Russia at the 2005 FINA Junior World Championships in Perth. Petri lives and trains in Long Beach, Calif.

This name sounds familiar to me.  I dunno.  She is from my area.  Maybe she has a younger sibling.

Wikipedia.

Olympic Bio.

Blog.

2. What is the best moment in your sports career?
I have been a part of some incredible moments in my water polo career. I was on the team in 2000, when Women’s Water Polo was first featured in the Olympic games. Team USA has won many Olympic and World Championship medals since then. But playing in the final game at World Championships last year, where we beat Australia to take home the gold, sits at the top of the list. Being part of this team has been an adventure and even 8 years after I started with the national team am learning new things to become a better player every day. I felt that this was a game where I really felt comfortable with my skills in the pool and was proud of what I could contribute to the team. For me that is what I strive for every time I play. It felt great to see the hard work reflected in a gold medal.


I don't know if either of these people are Heather Petri, but this is a sick photo.  All the respect in the WORLD for water polo players.

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39.  Emily Silver

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Emily Silver
Country: USA
Event: Women's Swimming - 400 Freestyle Relay
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Years at Cal: 2005-08

Silver was a member of the U.S. team at the 2007 World University Games, where she won a gold medal in the 400 free relay and a silver in the 400 medley relay. During the 2007-08 college dual season, she recorded over 10 individual first-place finishes (in dual meets). She was a member of Cal's 800-yard free relay that won the 2008 Pac-10 title (and Pac-10 meet record) in 7:04.13 and she was on the NCAA runner-up 200 free relay (1:27.52, a new school record). Silver set a Cal record in the 50 free at the 2007 NCAA meet (21.99, since broken), and she was the '07 Pac-10 champion in the 100 and 200 free. Voted team MVP as a freshman in 2005, Silver earned a bronze medal in the 400-meter free relay at the World Championships that summer. She claimed her spot on the U.S. Olympic team with a fifth-place finish in the 100 free at the trials (54.91)

She recently suffered a broken hand.

OMAHA, Neb. — Bainbridge's Emily Silver broke two fingers on her right hand coming into the wall Saturday night in the semifinals of the 50 freestyle, but the injury is not expected to keep her from making the trip or competing in Beijing.

Suffice it to say that this injury is Silver's version of "been there, done that." She's had this same injury twice before in her swimming career, both times the result of her coming in too hard to the wall in a sprint. The last time this happened was in 2006, four months before the meet to select the members of the 2007 World Championship, World University Games and Pan American Games teams.

Q+A with Emily Silver.

CalBears.com: How has Cal contributed to your Olympic quest?

Silver: "Being here and being surrounded by so many amazing athletes, being able to train with Natalie Coughlin every day, Erin Reilly, Ashley Chandler, all these different elite athletes, has allowed me to really start to believe that I could be at that level. To be able to compete with them, to be able to train with them every day to see what they do, to have amazing coaches like Teri McKeever and Kristen Lewis and have them believe in me, to just really know that there are other people out there who believe I can do it, that's allowed me to really start to believe. I think if I had gone to school anywhere else I wouldn't have felt this way."

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40.  Ratapong Sirisanont

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Ratapong "Nuk" Sirisanont
Country: Thailand
Event: Men's Swimming - Breaststroke
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
Years at Cal: 1997-2000

Sirisanont has been a member of Thailand's Olympic team during the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic games. His best Olympic finish was 12th in the 400 IM at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In December of 2003, Sirisanont became the first male triple gold-medal winner at the Southeast Asian Games. A member of the Cal class of 2000, Sirisanont was the 1999 Pac-10 champion in both the 200 breaststroke and 400 IM.

Not a lot on this gentleman.

41. Mike Teti

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Mike Teti
Country: USA
Event: Men's Rowing - Head Coach
Years at Cal: 2008-present

Mike Teti, head coach of the 2008 U.S. men's Olympic rowing team, was named head men's crew coach at Cal on July 26, 2008. A longtime fixture on the national level, he has served on the U.S. coaching staff at the World Championships and Olympic Games regularly since 1996. At the AthensOlympics 2004, he directed the men's eight to a world record in its heat and an eventual gold medal, marking the first time the United States captured the men's eight since 1964. As a rower, Teti was a 12-time national team member and three-time Olympian. From 1977-93, he won 24 national titles, a silver medal at the 1979 Pan American Games in the four, and a bronze and a gold in the eight at the World Championships (1985 and '87). He was also a bronze medal-winner in the eight at the 1988 Olympics.

US Rowing Bio.

Personal: In the fall of 1999, Teti was inducted into the St. Joseph’s University Athletic Hall of Fame. He also has been inducted into both the Monsignor Bonner High School and USRowing Halls of Fame. He is married to Kay Worthington, a nine-time veteran of the Canadian National Rowing Team who won two gold medals in the women’s four and eight at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

He's new to Cal:

BERKELEY - Mike Teti, head coach of the 2008 U.S. men's Olympic rowing team, has agreed to become head coach of men's crew at the University of California, Golden Bears Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced today.

Teti will continue to fulfill his obligations with the Olympic team through the Beijing Games and will officially start at Cal on September 1, 2008. He replaces Steve Gladstone, who accepted a position with the California Rowing Club earlier this summer. With the hiring of Teti as the Bear's men's crew coach, the number of Cal affiliated athletes and coaches who will be participating in the Beijing Olympics has increased to 45.

Steve Gladstone shall forever be known as the man who hired Tedford.  Genius, him.

42. Sherry Tsai

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Sherry Tsai
Country: Hong Kong
Event: Women's Swimming - Backstroke/Freestyle
Hometown: Hong Kong
Years at Cal: 2005-07

Tsai, who earned All-American honors at Cal from 2005-07, also participated for her native Hong Kong in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. She holds 14 Hong Kong records and earned the Best Swimmer Award from 1998-2001 by the Hong Kong Swimming Coaches Association. Tsai has had plenty of International exposure as well, competing in the in the 2001 East Asia Games, the 2005 World University Games (where she broke two Hong Kong backstroke records) and the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships.

Sherry Tsai is changing lives, one smile at a time.  Oh wait, that's a Millbrae area dentist.  Fudge!

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Not easy to find recent information for this non-dentistry Olympian. 

43. Grace Upshaw

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Grace Upshaw
Country: USA
Event: Track & Field - Long Jump
Hometown: Lafayette, Calif.
Years at Cal: 1994-97

A 2004 Olympian and four-time U.S. national champion in the long jump, Upshaw moved up from a No. 32 world ranking to a No. 5 world ranking in 2003. In her 2004 Olympics performances, Upshaw advanced to the final and took 10th overall. She unleashed a personal-best jump of 22-7 at the 2008 Olympic trials to finish second and secure her spot on the team. At the 2007 IAAF World Athletics Final, Upshaw took second over with a mark of 21-9.50. While a senior during her career at Cal, Upshaw tied the fifth-best mark in school history at 20-5.75. Also during her senior campaign, she placed second at the Pac-10 championships with a mark of 20-2.50. As a junior, she posted four victories, including a then-PR of 20-0.25. Upshaw also was a sprinter at Cal, running in the 100 meters and the 200 meters.

She's from Lafayette!  Lamorinda represent.  Of course her Olympics bio lists her as coming from Arcalanes, CA.  Yes, they didn't even manage to get the name of the high school correct.

Good genes
Upshaw's father, Monte, was a high school phenom in the long jump. On May 29, 1954, he broke Jesse Owens' national scholastic record in the event (24-11 1/4, set in 1933) with his jump of 25-4 1/4 at the California state championships. Monte finished 1954 ranked #5 in the world by Track & Field News, but a leg injury as a freshman at Cal ended his jumping career.

Jolted by Joyner
Upshaw, who competed against Marion Jones at the state meet in high school, finished second in the Pac-10 long jump her senior year. The 1997 Cal-Berkeley graduate took two years off from track and field after college and worked as an executive assistant at a Los Angeles company that made music videos. While in L.A., Upshaw's sister Joy introduced her to 1984 Olympic triple jump gold medalist Al Joyner, who had recently been widowed from his wife, five-time Olympic medalist Florence Griffith Joyner. Al Joyner persuaded her to come back to long jumping.

Personal notes
Upshaw's boyfriend is 2004 Olympic pole vault champion Tim Mack. Mack competed at 2008 Olympic Trials, but finished sixth and did not qualify for Beijing. Her sister, Joy, competes as a masters track athlete and is also a coach.

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Old Chron article on Ms. Upshaw.

Article on her making the team.

EUGENE, Ore. - Former California track and field student-athlete Grace Upshaw made the U.S. Olympic Team in the long jump on Thursday when she placed second with a personal-best mark of 22-7.00 (6.88m) at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Upshaw joins current Cal assistant coach Magdalena Lewy as Cal's representatives on the U.S. Olympic track and field team.

 

"This feels like the first step is over," Upshaw said. "Four years ago it was such a huge step for me to make the team, but this year I really want to do well in Beijing. I am looking forward to this and am finally healthy."

This makes back-to-back Olympic appearances for Upshaw, who also competed in the 2004 Olympic Games, where she advanced to the final and placed 10th overall. Her personal best before Thursday's competition was 22-5.25, which she earned in 2004 in Eugene, Ore.

43. Jake Wetzel

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Jake Wetzel
Country: Canada
Event: Rowing - Eight
Hometown: Saskatoon, Sask.
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 205
Years at Cal: 1998-2002

A highly decorated international rower, who recently won gold in the eight for Canada at the Lucerne World Cup, Wetzel won a silver medal in Canada's four in the 2004 Athens Olympics. At Cal, he won national championships as part of the IRA-winning varsity eight in 1999, 2001 and 2002. A dual citizen of the United States and Canada, Wetzel has competed for both national teams, placing seventh in the coxless pair in the 1998 World Championships for Canada and winning the four for the United States in the 1999 World Championships. In the 2000 Olympics, he took seventh place for the United States in the quadruple sculls. Wetzel rejoined his native country's team in 2003, winning the four in both the World Championships and Lucerne World Cup that year. In 2007, he and Canada won the eight at the Lucerne World Cup and the Henley Royal Regatta (Grand Challenge Cup).

Wikipedia.

 

As a teenager, Wetzel was on the Canadian Junior Cycling team; he only began rowing in the fall of 1997 at the University of California, Berkeley. His success was immediate and extraordinary. His collegiate boat was undefeated and won the freshman 8 event at the 1998 Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship (IRA). That summer Wetzel tried out for and made the Canadian National team in the pair event (2-) and finished seventh at the World Championships in Cologne, Germany. (It is virtually unheard of for a rower to make a national team in their first year rowing.)

In 1999, 2001, and 2002 he again competed for Berkeley where he was coached by Steve Gladstone, this time in the varsity 8. All three years his boats won the IRA and were de facto national champions. In 1999 and 2001, his boats were undefeated. In 2002, his boat suffered a single loss to the University of Washington, but beat Washington on several other occasions including the IRA.

Blood on the water.  It is an old article from 99, but includes Wetzel AND new Cal coach, Teti:

Each year, as part of this strategy, Teti brings in a new boy and touts him as the saviorùthis guy is the future of rowing, he is a beast, the old crew will hear. The rumors start flying early. He's an outsider from Ohio whose erg scores are off the charts. Or, he's ten feet tall and solid muscle. This summer is no different. Teti has found a ringer in a silent, bald, ripped Canadian. He's 6-foot-5, 22 years old, and looks a bit like the Russian villain played by Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV. His name is Jake Wetzel.

 

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Wetzel, who was born in Saskatchewan (his father is American and his mother Swedish), seems oblivious to all this. He keeps to himself at training sessions, and because he's so tall and pale, stands out like a ghostly exclamation point on the docks. He started out as a mountain biker, but after a series of disappointing finishes, he took up rowing, inspired by the 1996 Olympics. In 1997, as a novice freshman in U.C. Berkeley's rowing program, he went right into the freshman eight and helped it win every race. He also began rowing for the Canadian National Team, and his pair came in seventh at the '98 Worlds. But he feared that his Canadian coaches weren't going to give him a fair shot at the eight just yet, so Wetzel, who had met Teti at the '98 Worlds, called the coach the following winter and asked for a chance to try out for the U.S. National Team. Teti, convinced he had discovered his hot new rower, helped Wetzel navigate the bureaucracy to trade in the Maple Leaf for the Stars and Stripes. After finishing the year at Berkeley, he started officially at this summer's Selection Camp, where he arrives on his bike each morning for practice. And right now, he appears stronger than Wherley.

In a way, Wetzel, like Teti and Wherley, represents the new face of rowing. Nearly 200 years after the first rowing races pitted London ferrymen against one another for cash prizes, and 148 years after Harvard and Yale faced off in the first competition between eight-man boats in the United States, rowing has moved beyond the provincial Ivy League lakes and into places like Lincoln, Nebraska, and Chicago's Southwest Side. Middle-class suburban high-school athletic programs are rushing to add rowing to their sports offerings, the number of participants is exploding, and there are now about 80,000 amateur rowers nationwide. Meanwhile, the NCAA is working overtime to promote women's crew, programs that teach inner-city kids how to handle an oar are popping up all over, and health clubs are incorporating ergometers into their fitness classes. This, of course, is a coach's dream. It raises the profile of an obscure sport, brings attention to his rowers, and boosts acclaim and financial support, all of which Teti needs and wants. It also raises the pressure on Teti to produce resultsùto bring home the gold.

44.  I think I missed this guy, Matt Macedo:

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Matt Macedo
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Sport: Men's Swimming - Head Coach
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Years at Cal: 1998-02

Macedo, who competed at Cal from 1998-99 through 2001-02, is the Olympic swim coach for Trinidad and Tobago in Beijing. In August of 2007, he was hired as assistant coach at The Race Club in Islamorada, Florida, working with former Cal Co-Head Coach Mike Bottom. Macedo came to The Race Club after three years of coaching at North Coast Aquatics in Carlsbad, Calif. He was a 20-time All-American swimmer at Cal and a member of NCAA champion 400 medley (2000) and 400 free (2002) relays. Macedo also represented the U.S. at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing, placing 10th in the 100-meter freestyle.

 

He's a coach at The Race Club, where many of the greatest American swimmers train. 

Macedo is a 2003 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in American Studies. He was a 20-time All-American swimmer at Cal under Mike Bottom. He swam on two NCAA championship relay teams and also represented the U.S. at the 2001 World University Games. Macedo was the 2000 Pacific Swimming Swimmer of the Year.

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Kind of difficult to find information on this gentleman.

45. Elise Windes

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Elsie Windes
Country: USA
Event: Women's water polo
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Height: 5-10
Years at Cal: 2004-07

A three-time All-American at Cal, Windes scored 23 goals in 18 matches in her senior year, and concluded her career with 147 goals (fifth place on Cal's all-time scoring list). The Portland, Ore., native was Cal's first true freshman to ever be selected as an honorable mention All-American. Windes scored two goals at the 2007 Winter Cup and helped Team USA to a gold medal at the Pan American games with four goals and five steals. Windes guided the United States' women's water polo team to a gold medal with an 11-9 victory over Russia at the 2005 FINA Junior World Championships in Perth, Australia. Windes currently lives in Huntington Beach, Calif., and trains with the U.S. national team.

This lady is from Portland, but she doesn't look like a hipster.  Then again, she grew up well before the hipster invasion.

Olympic Bio

Surprise Trip
Not everyone gets a present like Windes did one Christmas. 'I think I was in 6th grade. After we opened all our presents, my dad brought in this huge box. It was full of snorkels, fins, and other stuff. At the bottom of the box was a bunch of plane tickets. We saw that we were going to Loreto, Mexico ... and leaving 3 days later!  As we were driving to the airport, we stopped at our family friends' house. My dad told us that their dad was going to drive our car back from the airport but then their whole family came out with all their luggage! They ended up coming with us! It was a great surprise!'

Friends of Cal Aquatics:

On how she started playing water polo
My sister played in high school so I always went to her games and watched but it was my dad that actually got me started. He plays on a masters team and so I would go to their practices and play around and one day the local age group coach was there and he made me start passing with him…and I got hooked!

On the Cal team
I love our team and school spirit! We have a lot of pride for our university and our team. I also love how much fun we have- it is rare that I go a practice without laughing…or at least smiling.
When playing on other teams I really miss saying "Go Bears!" at the end of practice.

On Coach Corso
Coach Corso is a great coach because he is honest and pushes you to move outside your comfort zone as a player. I don’t know if that makes sense but he doesn’t let you settle. He is always having us work on new shots or moves so we can use something different and expand our game.

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46.  I feel like I've already profiled this woman, but I'm not sure. 

Hannah Wilson

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Hannah Wilson
Country: Hong Kong
Event: Women's Swimming - Butterfly/Freestyle
Hometown: Hong Kong
Years at Cal: 2008-present

Wilson will represent her native Hong Kong at the Olympics for the second time this summer. In 2004 in Athens, she set a Hong Kong record in the 100-meter freestyle. Overall, Wilson, who also competed at the 2007 World Championships, holds national records in the 100 fly (1:00.81), 50 free (26.14), 100 free (56.51) and 200 free (2:03.24). During her freshman season at Cal in 2008, she earned honorable mention All-America honors in the 100-yard butterfly (53.02) and was part of the school record-setting 200 free relay that finished as the NCAA runner-up.

Wikipedia article.  Interesting:

Her struggle to receive the International Olympic Committee's permission to race in the Olympics was a cause for distress throughout Hong Kong[1].

I wonder why?

Here's an old article that might explain why:

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The International Olympic Committee's new rules on who can compete are meant to ensure no country will be able to buy its way to a medal by "importing" athletes from other places. All well and good, but the change calling for hopefuls to hold passports issued by the places they represent may crush the Olympic dreams of one promising young Hong Kong swimmer.

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Wilson was born here and holds a permanent identity card. As a British passport holder without any Chinese ancestry, Hannah has been placed in an impossible position. Not old enough to renounce her British citizenship, and disqualified from competing for Britain because she has already swum for Hong Kong in international events, her best hope seems to be an appeal to the IOC. Hannah years ago turned down British coaches when they came knocking on her door. It would be too bad if this dedication to Hong Kong becomes a part of the reason for keeping her out of this year's Games in Athens.

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Q+A with Ms. Wilson:

CalBears.com: What has it been like to live in the United States, where you arrived in August 2007?

Wilson: "I'd visited here before, so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into. Luckily, just having San Francisco, which is something I can relate to, and being close to the sea, those little bits that remind me of home. Coming to Berkeley has been a great experience, because it's reality. It's not just a campus school, it's a town and you're out there. I love it over here, it's just been a great move. I do miss my family a lot and talk to them quite often using the webcam. My parents come to visit and do go home for competitions, so I see them a fair bit. I'm getting used to it now, this reality that I'm not going to see them every day anymore."

 
 

CalBears.com: What are the differences between the run-up to your last Olympic Games and the past four years through this past academic year at Cal?

Wilson: "I just feel a lot more confident than I did last time. Coming over here and then having to go back for my trials, I'd been in a different situation from other people back in Hong Kong. I knew that if I wanted their support for me being over here and not being there, then I had to prove that what I was doing was good for me and the right decision. So I went over there and I just said, `I'm going to do it.' I did my best performances over there and it was one of the first times I've actually performed well at home, so it was good."

CalBears.com: What has the experience been like finishing your first year as a member of the Cal women's swim team?

Wilson: "This team is amazing. I've never had a team before really at home. To come in here with a bunch of girls, it's just continuous support for each other. I've never had so many people just going for me and wanting me to do well and [make me] feel part of a swimming family. It's just great to have people that I can turn to. I finally feel like I'm at home here and having these people around me is the best thing."

 

So, there you go.  Now, you know 46 Olympians!  Go Bears!

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