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Cereal and nonfat milk. Fruit. Pasta. Turkey. Hours
of training. Four Olympians tell what got them to Atlanta.
| GUEST WORKOUTS

The Gold Rush

July 10, 1996|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ask four Olympic competitors from California to describe their respective fitness programs, and the physical challenges are Herculean in proportion. Then again, so is the determination when somebody wants to sport The Gold.

Some unexpected things emerged as well--a Robin Hood lunch pail, shadowboxing under water, working out with popcorn and guzzling a little bit too much soda.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Track and Field

The 34-year-old is a two-time Olympic champion with three gold medals to her credit. In 1988, she won the long jump and pentathlon, and in 1992, the heptathlon. She lives in Los Angeles, where she trains with husband-coach Bob Kersee. Jackie puts in 12-hour days to prepare for the long jump and the heptathlon.

Workout: From 8 to 10 a.m. Jackie does her warmup. That includes walking two miles, jogging one more, followed by stretching and throwing the javelin.

The next 10 hours vary with running, lifting weights, working with a physical therapist and doing routines to strengthen feet and ankles. ("Take a big bin with 30 pounds of popcorn [kernels]," she explains, "and set your foot down in there and work it.")

Diet: For breakfast, McDonald's sausage McMuffin or pancakes with butter. "No syrup or any of the good stuff," she says.

For lunch, turkey sandwich with mustard on wheat bread.

For dinner, pasta or Chinese food.

Thoughts: "I just try to program my body to do the same thing as when I go into competition by working out at least 12 hours a day, five days a week. I have Wednesdays off but that's not a complete day of rest because I might go out there and play around with the shotput. Sunday is a day off though, you know, to go to church."

In the Final Hours Before Competition . . . "I need to concentrate on what I've got to do. That's the key, being able to focus on what you want to do and not have any distractions. I don't want to be sidetracked or take anything for granted."

Janet Dykman

Archery

At age 42, this jewelry maker from El Monte will compete in the Olympic bow, where an arrow can travel more than 150 mph. Janet isn't sure exactly where this passion for archery came from, but while cleaning out the closet her mom did find an old lunch pail of Janet's. Sure enough--it was Robin Hood. Nowadays Janet carries a stuffed Snoopy for good luck.

Workout: The wind determines how Janet exercises. If it's calm, she shoots. If it's windy, she stretches and warms up the muscles with a flex band. She squeezes a tennis ball if her fingers are stiff. There's half an hour of running and 20 minutes on the stationary bike.

Diet: For breakfast, a piece of toast with Gouda cheese, a cup of tea with sugar. "It's puny," Janet allows, "but I'm not puny."

For lunch, turkey with stuffing, corn or peas. Boiled potatoes are a staple.

For dinner, because the family is Dutch, the 6 p.m. avond eten is a piece of dark bread with cheese and Dutch lunch meats like ham finely sliced. Nonfat milk. Dessert is fruit or "my mom's really good puddings."

Thoughts: "I ended up moving in with my parents so that I could deal with [the training] financially. They're very supportive. They were flying the Olympic flag in the frontyard when I got home so that was really something. I think I have enough frequent flier miles to get them some airline tickets to go to Atlanta. Or maybe the media will air some archery this time or maybe I'll put in some cable TV so my parents can see me."

In the Final Hours Before Competition . . . "I would hope for some time alone where I could sit and go over what I feel is going to come. If you're fortunate, somewhere where there's running water or a little pond. That is always wonderful because you can go back to that picture when you're on the competition field."

Janet Evans

Swimming

The 24-year-old swimmer from Placentia has won four gold medals--in the 800-meter freestyle in 1988 and 1992, the 400-meter freestyle and the 400-meter individual medley in 1988. She likes to shop in Pasadena with her mom and relax at restaurants in Pasadena's Holly Street area.

Workout: Janet's program goes six days a week, from 5:30 until 9 a.m. and then again from 2 to 5 p.m. (with Sundays off) to gear up for the 400-meter freestyle and 800-meter freestyle. She runs four miles a day, works with weights and Nautilus machines, puts in an hour's worth of sit-ups and push-ups, and does 10 minutes of stretching.

Then there's 10 miles of various swimming drills. For example, she'll do a set of five 800 meters with 30 seconds of rest in between.

"It's hard," she says, "but if you have the coach standing over a lane it becomes easier." After all that, some gentle swimming to cool down. "You know how they walk a horse after it's done running a race? Same thing. We're like thoroughbreds. We swim real easy to cool down and get the lactic acid out of the muscles."

Diet: For breakfast, a banana, a bagel, Cheerios or Wheaties with nonfat milk. Sometimes nonfat yogurt.

For lunch, turkey sandwich with nonfat mayo, mustard and lettuce or pasta.

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