Two Olympic veterans share how they've been spending their time off the track and mat.


"MY PASSION IS TO GIVE BACK"

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, 45, Veteran Track and Field Star

Real-Life Lessons from Olympic Athletes

Jackie Joyner-Kersee was just 10 when she began volunteering at the Mary Brown Community Center in East St. Louis. "I was putting away Ping-Pong paddles, reading to kids in the library, sharpening pencils—whatever they needed. I loved it so much and I was there so often that eventually they told me I did a better job than the people who got paid!" says this world-champion long jumper and heptathlete, who took home six Olympic medals. In 1986, Joyner-Kersee learned the center was closed, so she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and raised more than $12 million to build a new community center, which opened in 2000. "Getting started as a volunteer anywhere can be a challenge to a lot of people. The biggest hurdle is that people think they have to give all of their spare time. But if you only have a half hour, you can still make a difference," explains Joyner-Kersee. "Assisting with small tasks is invaluable."


"THIS IS HARDER THAN THE OLYMPICS!"

Mary Lou Retton, 40, Veteran Gymnast

Real-Life Lessons from Olympic Athletes-2

In 1984, Mary Lou Retton became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. Today she's married with four daughters, ages 7 to 13. She's also a corporate spokeswoman and travels the world promoting the merits of proper nutrition and regular exercise. "Training for the Olympics was much easier than balancing my life now!" Retton says. "When practice was over, there was time for me. But with four kids and a career, I have no downtime." She stays sane by keeping her work and family life completely separate. "When I'm not on the road, I finish my workday at 2:30 p.m.," she explains. "Then I pick the kids up from school and they get 100 percent Mommy, not part Mommy and part Mary Lou Retton."
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