With the 2012 Olympics rapidly approaching, three local athletes representing the United States and their hometown of Cypress are in the midst of training and preparing for their trip to London.
Camille Adams qualified for the top spot on the U.S. women's Olympic swimming team with a time of 2:06.52 in the 200 meter butterfly. Former Olympian Jonathan Horton secured the third position on the U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team, and Chris Brooks will accompany the five-man team as an alternate.
Opening Ceremonies are scheduled to take place Friday, July 27.
Swimmer Camille Adams, 20, is comfortable in the water and even more at-ease when competing, as she has trained with USA Swimming since she was 4 years old—an organization that has cultivated such Olympians as Michael Phelps.
Always cool under pressure, Adams first competed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 when she was 16 years old while a student at Cypress Woods High School. Since then, the young athlete achieved silver medals at the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Championships for the 200 meter butterfly, a bronze medal at the 2011 U.S. National Championship in the 400 meter individual medley and a qualifying time for the 2012 U.S. women's Olympic swim team.
“It's the life-long dream of any parent, I think, to have their child get to this level,” said Eddie Adams, her father and Lone Star swim coach,. “It has required a high level of dedication from her and her family.”
When Camille Adams and her twin sister Ashley Adams were born in September 1991, they weighed only about two pounds 11 ounces, which their father credits to the fighting spirit they have in the water.
“I suppose [their] passion is from the fact that they have always been such strong workers,” Eddie Adams said. “They have had to fight since day one.”
The Adams sisters trained at Texas A&M University under coach Steve Bultman. At the trials, Camille Adams and teammate Breeja Larson became the first A&M athletes to qualify for an individual event for the Olympics. Camille Adams took the gold in the 200 meter butterfly and a bronze medal in the 400 meter individual medley, which incorporates the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
“USA Swimming has done a wonderful job,” Eddie Adams said. “When these athletes achieve a certain level, they are continuously challenged. The coaches stayed with [Camille] and monitored her progress. She had some set-backs, of course, but they groomed her nicely.”
As a swim coach, Eddie Adams blames himself for his daughters' interest in swimming, as he taught them the basics at a young age.
“It was important to my mother that we all learn how to swim,” Eddie said. “I always enjoyed the day-to-day work it brings, and I you get out of it what you put in.”
According to her father, Camille Adams is training three times a day with some 35 teammates from all over the country. Coach Bultman has been asked to join the coaching staff of the Olympic team, and they are scheduled to leave for France Saturday, July 14 to continue training leading up to the London games.
Despite setbacks, 25-year-old Chris Brooks made a comeback during the final days of the Olympic trials and secured his spot as an alternate for the U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team. A year after shattering his ulna and radius in his right arm during a high bar routine, Brooks began training at the University of Oklahoma in 2005 under head coach Mark Williams.
“Chris came to us with past injuries, which made it difficult for him to have a direct path,” Williams said. “He had his ups and downs. As severe as his injuries were, it could have been career ending.”
As he entered his senior year at the University of Oklahoma, Brooks' father and mentor, Larry Brooks, was killed in a car accident in September 2008. He was a former gymnast and co-founder of Houston North Gymnastics along with coach Bill Foster.
“I think [my dad] would be pumped,” Brooks said. “In a lot of ways being an alternate takes the most heart. I think he is very proud. It's been a tough journey.”
The following year, Brooks had to forfeit his chances of making the World Championship gymnastics team when he was forced to undergo ankle surgery.
“Chris is resilient and wasn't willing to give up on his progress,” Williams said. “He really broke through in 2010 when he made the World Championship team.”
Earlier this year, Brooks took home three gold medals in horizontal bar, still rings and all-around at the Pacific Rim Championship, and he helped lead his team to the gold medal.
“[Chris] is a character and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team,” Williams said. “He's embracing his roles and is a good leader when he gets inspired.”
Brooks trains in his hometown at Cypress Academy of Gymnastics off Huffmeister Road along with fellow Olympian, Jonathan Horton.
Members of the U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team led by assistant coach Tom Meadows and personal coach Mark Williams, will train at the Cypress Academy in preparation for their trip to London on July 19.
Jon Horton began gymnastics training at the age of 4 when he joined Cypress Academy of Gymnastics. Chris Brooks joined the following year, and the two athletes became childhood friends and amicable competitors throughout their gymnastics career.
“[Chris] and I trained together, went to school together and even took the same major,” Horton said. “If not for gymnastics, we would probably have to do something as equally active. We are kind of adrenaline junkies. We like to ride fast motorcycles and drive fast cars.”
According to his USA Olympic team profile, Horton, 26, was a “wild child,” stating “I once climbed a pole in the middle of Target all the way to the ceiling. I used to do back flips on my parents bed, and I rode a garage door to the top when I was three years old.”
Horton first competed at the Olympic trials in 2004. As a college freshman, he finished 12th before returning to his training under coach Mark Williams. He competed for the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated in 2008.
That same year, Horton participated in the Olympic trials for a second time. He traveled to Beijing with the U.S. men's Olympic gymnastics team when team leaders Paul Hamm and Morgan Hamm suffered injuries. Alternates were brought in, and the team pressed on to receive the bronze medal. As the team's top performer, Horton left with a silver medal in high bar, which fueled his desire to continue his training as an Olympian.
“This was Jon's goal pretty much from the moment he set foot on the mat—to make the U.S. Olympic team,” Williams said. “His level of work and his dedication to practice was in the mindset of what it took to be an Olympian. He continued to impress us along the way. When you combine athletic genetics with the mental aspects, these are the things that separate [athletes]. It's a process—almost every day in practice, Jon was the last one done.”
Throughout his career, Horton has accumulated seven gold medals from national championships, three World Cup gold medals and silver and bronze medals from Beijing.