Gold Rush

While the clock ticks down to the 2000 Summer Games, some of the best U.S. Olympic athletes talk about personal web sites, winning ugly and the virtues of the full-body shave

Lenny Krayzelburg of the USA dives into the water in the Men's 200m Back Stroke event during the Pan Pacific Championships at Sydney International Aquatic Centre in Homebush, Sydney, Australia. August 26th, 1999. Credit: Nick Wilson/Allsport/Getty

Name Lenny Krayzelburg Age Twenty-three Hometown Los Angeles Event 100-and 200-meter backstroke Almost a broken record "Last week I missed the world record in the 200 by 0.11 seconds," says Lenny. "In the 100, I missed by 0.14 – seconds. My biggest meet is coming up next week – the Pan Pacific Championships, in Sydney, at the pool where the Olympics are gonna be held. I'm really excited, because it looks like I can take those records down." Wanted –– triple – blade action: "I shave my legs and upper body before a big meet," says Lenny. "I don't have a lot of body hair to start with, because the chlorine water damages it – plus I'm blond. I used to cut myself, but I've gotten pretty good at it now. I use Gillette Sensor, but I've heard the Mach 3 is pretty good. I'll have to check it out." The Power of Self-Delusion: " In Australia, they're gonna have sell-out crowds of six or seven thousand people. They're gonna be cheering for Australian swimmers, but I can turn that to my advantage and think. 'Ah, they're cheering for me.' "

Name Lance Armstrong Age Twenty-seven Hometown Austin Event Cycling road race Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat Three years ago, Lance was ranked the Number Three cyclist in the world when he learned he had testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. After undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, Lance began training again –– a mere six months after his initial diagnosis. This year, on July 25th, Lance won the Tour de France, the Super Bowl of cycling. Since then, he's become a huge star in the U.S.; he has long been one in Europe. The sweet smell of success "Cycling is a traditional sport in Europe, whereas here it's a nontraditional sport," Lance says. "They look at soccer and cycling like we look at football, baseball and basketball. Life's a little busy right now, but I think that'll die down. A few more people notice you, but for the most part everybody's nice and respectful, so it's nothing unpleasant."

Look out below "People who see water polo for the first time say it's really brutal," says Chris Humbert, 29 . " Stuff goes on underwater that the referees can't see –– kicking, grabbing, punching, eye-gouging, whatever." Will work for water polo Team members work day jobs in the off-season, and Humbert plans to go into Web design after he retires. "This year, four of us started doing water-polo clinics for kids all over the country," he says. "Since we know all the best players and coaches in the world, we do interviews, take photos and put 'em all up at waterpoloplayers.com." It's All Greek to them: "We had four guys play professionally in Greece last year," says Bruce Wigo, 49, the executive director of the team. "Twelve thousand people show up for games over there. One guy, Kyle Kopp, plays in Crete. Crete's soccer team is lousy, their basketball team's lousy, but their water-polo team is pretty good, so Kyle's a major celebrity there."

Name Hunter Kemper Age Twenty-three Hometown Longwood, Florida Event Triathlon (swimming, biking and running) Mama's boy and proud of it "My sister and I are both out of college now, and my mom doesn't have a full-time job, so she's able to travel with me," says Hunter. "I love having her at all the races. It's really gratifying when you win and it's not just you in some foreign country getting a big win." Ninety percent mental "I work with a sports psychologist named Peter Haberl at the Olympic Training Center," says Hunter. "He gives me helpful things to focus on. I used to focus on winning, so if anything along the way went wrong, mentally I would shut down. Now I focus on what I have to do to bike fast, or keeping my swimming stroke long and smooth. When I run, I focus on quick feet. Because when you're in Sydney 2000, do you know how much outside stuff is gonna be happening? You're gonna be in the athletes' village, up all night with bands playing – it's not gonna be ideal. Winning is all about who's gonna be able to cope with that stuff."