Finding her stroke
PHOTOS COURTESY MITCHELL HAASETH/NBC OLYMPICS
AT THE 2008 OLYMPIC trials, Ariana
Kukors came within 0.08 second of earning
a spot on the U.S. swim team. Devastated,
she returned to her room afterwards and
barely slept an hour that night. The next
morning she was back in the pool.
“I needed to prove to myself that I was
a fighter,” explains the California resident.
“I wasn’t ready to retire. There is still a lot I
want to do within the sport.”
What she’s done since then is win five
championship medals, including two golds.
At the 2009 world championships in Rome,
Kukors swam the fastest 200-meter indi-
vidual medley in history. A day later, in the
finals, she lowered her own world record.
A hop, a sprint
and a javelin
ASHTON EATON didn’t expect to
be an Olympian. The seeds of his brilliant
athletic career weren’t even sown until his
senior year in high school, when his track
coach suggested he think about doing
“I thought, ‘It sounds like fun.’ I liked
to mess around on the track,” says the
Costco member. Now the Oregon native is
headed to London to compete in the men’s
decathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The decathlon is a two-day series of 10
track and field events: the 100-meter dash,
long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter
dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault,
javelin throw and 1,500-meter run.
Once Eaton agreed to try the decathlon, he got his big break when the
University of Oregon’s track and field coach
saw him compete in the long jump at a
meet and offered him a spot on the university’s team. In college, he won five NCAA
championships and broke Dan O’Brien’s
world record, scoring 6,499 points in the
Eaton’s success didn’t come without
its challenges. “I like to be good at stuff
overnight, and you can’t with this,” he says.
“It [can be] frustrating ... I’m not the big-
gest guy, and shot put and javelin guys are
Eaton gets a lot of family support. His
mother, who raised him on her own,
attends most of his meets, and if she can’t,
his grandparents fill in for her. “Not a lot of
fans watch the decathlon,” Eaton says.
“People don’t want to sit in the stands for
six hours.” Sometimes, he says, members of
his family are the only fans in the stadium.
—Maria Bellos Fisher
ity’s ts s ch overn E moth
“I stopped thinking about times and
just think about improving within the stroke
and executing the best possible race I can,”
she says. That new approach has seemingly
helped her find another gear in the water,
where she relishes every opportunity to
compete against the best in her event. Now,
at age 23, she hopes to make a big splash
this summer in the London Games.
“I started picturing myself on the
Olympic podium when I was probably 14,
still thinking it was a pipe dream,” says
Kukors, a Costco member. “But I made the
Olympic trials and placed 10th when I was
15 and third when I was 19. And the rest
has yet to be written.”—Craigh Barboza
Olympic block party
PHIL DALHAUSSER often brings home his work: sand. His car floor is covered in it. “The best part of my job is I can legitimately say the beach is my office,” says the 32-year-old, who will be defending his 2008 gold medal in beach volleyball with his partner, Todd Rogers. “It’s where I go to work.” Business, you could say, is great. Since a rule change in 2001 to reduce the size of the court, volleyball has become the domain of big men like Dalhausser, a 6-foot-9-inch block specialist with an elastic build. His size, strength and intimidation at the net have arned him the nickname The Thin Beast. “There aren’t that many people who touch higher than I do,” says Dalhausser, a Costco member, who grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. He didn’t pick up volleyball until his senior year of high school, when his math teacher, the coach, asked him to join. “As soon
as I stepped on the volleyball court, every- thing became really easy,” he says. Dalhausser and Rogers have certainly made busi- ness a pleasure, winning a record 40 consecutive matches following their victory in the Beijing Olympics. —CB
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96 ;e Costco Connection JUNE 2012