Photos by Mitchell Haaseth, NBC Olympics
Most of us will be tuning in to the 2012 Summer Olympics to cheer on our favorite competitors and hear their fascinating stories, but what you may not learn from the TV coverage is that some of them are also avid DIYers, laying laminate floors or building furniture on the weekends — just like the rest of us! Intrigued? Read on for more about four elite athletes who also excel in the woodworking and home improvement arenas.
A swimmer from Irvine, California, Dana Vollmer spends most of her time in the pool. But when she finally dries off, her attention turns to sprucing up her home with impressive DIY projects. “I am currently building furniture for my office, refurbishing an old piano, building a watch display case that will hang in my living room and countless other projects,” Dana says. “I am always sanding something in the house, getting dust everywhere. The upside is I’m always cleaning it up, so my house is spotless!”
Cheer for Dana when she swims the 100-meter fly on July 28 and the 800-meter freestyle on August 2.
UPDATE 7/29: Dana Vollmer won the gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly. With a world record time of 55.98, she also became the first woman to swim under 56 seconds in this event.
Born in Russia and now living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrestler Elena Pirozhkova learned lifelong DIY skills at a very young age while assisting her father with projects around their home. “I have helped my dad make sheds and build our own sauna,” Elena says. “Probably my most challenging project with him was building the frames and covering the roof of our house. I am so lucky to have that memory with him before he died. He definitely taught me skills that I can use for the rest of my life.”
Watch and cheer on Elena when she competes in the women’s 63kg on August 8.
When Jesse Williams, a high jumper from Eugene, Oregon, discovered that he enjoyed working on various projects in and around his home, he decided to turn his affinity for home improvement into more than just a hobby. “I love working on my house!” Jesse exclaims. “There’s always something that needs repair or a space I can upgrade. I’m getting pretty good at it, too, so I invested in some property, and now I’m a landlord. That’s where these skills really come in handy!”
Check out Jesse in the men’s high jump on August 5.
Being good with his hands and legs makes Trey Hardee, a decathlete from Austin, Texas, an excellent runner, jumper, thrower — and DIYer. Off the track, his interest is architecture. “I’m fascinated by the way things work, the way they’re put together,” Trey says. “If I wasn’t an athlete, I’d be an architect. And every architect should know how to build what they’re designing!”
Watch and cheer for Trey when he takes on the decathlon on August 8.