Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

82. Melanie Roach

United States
Age: 33

No American has had a rougher road to Beijing than Roach. A herniated disk ruined her shot at making the 2000 Olympic team. She tried to return after giving birth to each of her three children, but the pain always inflamed. In 2005, her son Drew was diagnosed with autism. "Compared to the challenges or raising an autistic child, weightlifting is a relief," Roach says. "I appreciate my time in the gym." Surgery fixed her back, and she was the top lifter at the U.S. trials. Though she's only 5'1/2", 119 lbs, she became the first American woman to clean and jerk twice her body weight. After the Olympics, Roach will man the phone banks for her husband, Dan, a Washington state legislator who's up for re-election this fall.