Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Works like an ox

In honor of the Chinese New Year and welcoming in the year of the ox, I thought it might be fun to take a look at athletes born in this zodiac year. When I think of an ox, I think of characteristics like strong and hard-working, which are also adjectives I'll hear often enough to describe an athlete. While there's probably no correlation between the year you were born and your athletic prowess--just coincidence and luck of the draw--I was curious to see who might be predisposed to ox-ness. And I was pretty surprised at the results.
The quick requirements on this list: these athletes are born in 1961, 1973 and 1985, and they have participated in sports like running, cycling and swimming. Also, most happen to be American, but I think that's due to my wikipedia search.
  • Gunn-Rita Dahle, Feb. 10, 1973, Norwegian cross-country mountain biker who won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics and won six World Championships and six European Championships.
  • Amy Van Dyken, Feb. 15, 1973, U.S. Olympic swimmer who won four golds at the 1996 Games.
  • Cathy Freeman, Feb. 16, 1973, Australian athlete who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Games and carried the Olympic flag to kick off the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
  • Jenny Thompson, Feb. 22, U.S. Olympic swimmer who competed on four teams: '92, '96, '00, '04. She's also one of the most decorated Olympians in history with 12 medals, eight gold.
  • Antii Autti, March 15, 1985, a Finnish snowboarder who won gold at the 2005 Winter X Games.
  • Haile Gebrselassie, Apr. 18, 1973, Ethiopian long-distance runner who currently holds the fastest marathon time--for the first time under 2 hours and 4 minutes--and numerous other running accomplishments.
  • Greg LeMond, June 26, 1961, U.S. road cyclist. Before there was Lance there was LeMond--LeMond won the Tour de France three times.
  • Michael Phelps, June 30, 1985--U.S. Olympic swimmer. After Beijing, he almost doesn't need an introduction...capturing eight golds in a single Olympics.
  • Carl Lewis, July 1, 1961--U.S. track and field star who won 10 Olympic
  • Inge de Bruijn, Aug. 24, 1973, 1973, Dutch swimmer with four Olympic wins in freestle and butterfly.
  • Lindsey Vonn, Oct. 18, 1985, U.S. skier who's currently tearing it up on the World Cup circuit.
  • Levi Leipheimer, Oct. 24, 1973, U.S. cyclist who won a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games in the time trial and races the tour circuit.
  • Jan Ullrich, Dec. 2, 1973, German cyclist who won the Tour de France in 1997, medals in the 2000 Games and finished second to Lance Armstrong in the Tour a few times. (Monica Seles the U.S. tennis star shares his birthday)
  • Laszlo Cseh, Dec. 3, 1985, Hungarian swimmer who finished second to Michael Phelps in three events at the Beijing Games.
  • Paula Radcliffe, Dec. 17, 1973, British runner who holds the marathon world record for women.
Talk about an impressive list between Tour de France wins, speedy marathoners and Olympic talent. I wonder if competition in the year of the ox can work in a non-ox's favor and turn out some steadfast races. A clever and quick-witted monkey or a soft-spoken and reserved rabbit might appreciate and little rub-off of the ox's endurance through hardship, especially in those last miles of a marathon or at mile 75 of a century. Note: if you know of any triathletes born in these years, please share. I was hoping to find at least one and came up empty-handed. Posted by Kate

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