Against All Odds: Top 8 Most Inspiring Athletes of the 2012 Olympic Games

Photo by: Steve Ryan
American cyclist Evelyn Stevens, 29
When Evelyn Stevens was a cubicle-bound investment banker, she bought herself a high-tech bike. Then in 2008, her sister Angela convinced her to... more 
Photo by: Steve Ryan
American cyclist Evelyn Stevens, 29
When Evelyn Stevens was a cubicle-bound investment banker, she bought herself a high-tech bike. Then in 2008, her sister Angela convinced her to enter an off-track bike race, and she won. Ms. Stevens attended her first bike racing clinic a few months after that, and started entering races. In 2009, she chucked her New York apartment and rat-race job and focused solely on training.

"So often, people want to put people in boxes. Just try. If you fail, you can fail and fail and fail, and that's how you learn to get better," she told ESPN.

Related: 10 life-lessons we can all learn from Olympians less 
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Tue, Jul 17, 2012 2:18 PM EDT
Sure, I enjoy the competition, the sweat, and the motivation to get up off the couch and go for a run -- but it's the stories that truly make the Olympics special for me.



These are the tales of personal sacrifice, of overcoming obstacles, of achieving dreams through not just great genetics, but through hours of hard work. When the media calls these stories "Cinderella stories," I always find that a little off-putting. Cinderella, essentially, did nothing but have luck and a fairy godmother. Cinderella couldn't even keep her shoes on! Hard work. Not letting anything stop you. Not letting people tell you, "you can't do that." These are the stories to tell our children, don't you think?



Take a look at these eight most inspiring Olympic athletes from all over the world. In a field crowded with talent and impossible dedication, these men and women stand out as truly inspirational human beings.




- By Joslyn Gray


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