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Going for gold: 14 with Utah ties competing in Summer Games

Published: Thursday, July 26 2012 9:17 p.m. MDT

"It was crazy," Gibb said in an NBC.com interview. "We had the little mini celebration where we're like, 'Hey, we qualified for the Olympics." And then, all of a sudden, we're like, "Hey, we're in the semifinals of a Grand Slam!"

The duo defeated the reigning world champions from Brazil to earn that Grand Slam title.

"I've played professionally now for 11 years, and I've never had a Grand Slam win," said Gibb. "It was the sweetest win I've had."

Both men said they're playing their best volleyball this year, and they credit coach Mike Dodd.

"He's been the key to our turnaround," Gibb told NBC. "Last year we were kind of just wavering, we were floundering, not real focused and not playing well. And once we had a chance to snatch him up again, we've jumped on it and he's changed our game a lot. He really put a lot of emphasis on our serving and aggressive hand setting and aggressive transition setting. We owe a ton to him."

SHALAYA KIPP

Shalaya Kipp thought about wearing a U.S. Olympic Team uniform every day in training. But she didn't know if it would become a reality until a few weeks ago.

Before finishing third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Olympic Trials in Oregon last month, she hadn't even run fast enough to compete at the games.

"I wasn't that sure if I was going to make it or not," she said in a press conference after she qualified for the team by finishing third. "I'm still enrolled in summer school."

The Skyline standout said it was a conversation with one of her University of Colorado coaches that made the possibility of the Olympics seem a little more like a reality than a day dream.

One of her coaches told her it was a "very real possibility" for her to make the 2012 Olympic team.

"It's definitely been on my mind," said 22-year-old redshirt junior. "That kind of stuck with me. Every day I thought of that during training. Now that it's sinking in, it feels really good."

Kipp grew up ski racing, but it was running that offered her a college scholarship. It was a coach at CU who talked her into giving steeplechase a try. She trains with the country's top woman, Emma Coburn.

"Emma is phenomenal," said Kipp. "In training she's encouraging me. We do a lot of our workouts together. I get to kick against her. It's great having Emma … I'm so fortunate to be able to train with Emma. I'm really excited."

CAMERON LEVINS

Cam Levins is a Canadian distance runner who qualified for the Olympic team with two jaw-dropping performances. He won the 5,000-meter event at the Mt. SAC Relays and then nine days later, he won the 10,000-meter race at Stanford's Payton Jordan invitational. Both races were the fastest times in the world at those distances.

The Southern Utah University student athlete attributes his success to high mileage. While some distance runners compete by training about 60 miles a week, he trains more than double that.

"I felt like I had to risk something to get the results I wanted," Levins told the Deseret News last month.

The native of Black Creek, British Columbia, Levins attended a high school so small, it didn't have a track team until he and some of his classmates organized one. There were 10 students on the team and Levins was the only distance runner.

Even training alone, he managed to run a mile in 4:17. He received just one Division I college scholarship offer and that was from Eric Houle of SUU.

At SUU, Levins improved, running a sub-four minute mile. But it wasn't until he began double his training miles that he began to see the possibilities of representing his country at the 2012 Olympic Games. He said competing in London will be the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

"Like any young athlete, I dreamed of going to the Olympics," he said. "I felt like I was a long ways from it. It was the end goal and suddenly I'm almost there."

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