On a whim, Stuczynski abandoned her plans for an advanced psychology degree to try the pole vault for a living. She stocked shelves in her dad's grocery store to finance the dream. She should have seen a shrink, right? Well, within 10 months, Stuczynski reached a world class level, and last year became the first American woman to clear 16 feet. She will challenge Yelena Isinbayeva, the defending Olympic champ and world record holder, in Beijing. A former basketball player who averaged more than 24 points per game her senior year of college, Stuczynski still trains in rustic conditions: she practices in two pushed-together Quonset huts in her coach's upstate New York backyard.
Next 69. Cat Osterman