Joanne Dow's Journey to Beijing

Although her placement prevented her from going to Atlanta, it was a remarkable achievement for a newcomer who had just suffered a torn hamstring and was without a solid training base.

Despite the disappointments she has endured, she has remained undaunted. She went on to place an amazing fourth at the 2000 Olympic Trials with a time of 1:36:17, despite undergoing knee surgery earlier in the year when it seemed certain she would have the opportunity to compete in Sydney.

By 2004, Dow was certainly no stranger to adversity. She finished second in the 20K walk at the Olympic Trials. Everything pointed to her continuing on to Athens, but Olympic rules prevented her from doing so.

Although Dow had the "A" qualifying standard with a 1:32:55 at Chula Vista, she needed one other athlete to get the "A" standard in order to compete at the Games. The Olympic Trials winner, Teresa Vaill, did not have it. The rules state that if only one athlete would compete in an event, then the Olympic Trial champion would get the spot.

This year, her goal of making the Olympic Team was finally realized. She won the 20K race walk at the U.S Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. She finished with a time of 1:35:11. After four Olympic Trials attempts, her determination, hard work and perseverance paid off.

"I wanted this bad," Dow said. "Fourteen years and my fourth time here, and I was ready."

Sheer determination, hard work and a competitive fire have finally brought Dow to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. There are distinct qualities that are the core essence of any world class athlete, and Dow has shown what she is made of many times over. These are the qualities that have made her a true inspiration.

Great Time for the Dow Family

The happiness and thrill of being an Olympic contender will be multiplied with the arrival of Dow's husband and children, who are scheduled to arrive in Beijing prior to Dow's event. Dow said she feels very blessed to be at the Olympics and part of that feeling is the acknowledgement that this is for the entire family.

"This is a great time for our family being as the kids are 16 and 18 and will really appreciate and understand this too," Dow said. "They are excited to come, and I am so excited that Tim and the kids get to share this wonderful reward with me. They deserve it too."

Dow is training in Dalian, China at a center well outside Beijing because of air pollution concerns, which are a definite challenge for distance athletes.

"I'm not in the village right now; I'm at the training camp in Dalian with many members of the track and field team," Dow said. "A lot of them came here first and are staying as late as they can for clean air."

Stay tuned for more of Dow's training in China, the off-site training center, the Chinese hosts and the arrival and reactions of Dow's family.

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