"Believe it. Achieve it." Olympic gold medalist and Ohio native Katie Smith summed up the best advice she'd ever received in those four simple words. "If it's worth having, it's worth the work," she continued, whether you weather a jersey or a suit. This Olympic champ spoke along with three local Olympic hopefuls gearing up to try out for Team USA over the coming months, during the Greater Columbus Sports Commission's recent annual Women's Sports Report presented by Key4Women breakfast, which honors all-star female athletes in the area. Capital Style sat down with these four fabulous women to find out what inspires their success. We left with a little inspiration of our own.–Beth Stallings
Once an OSU star basketball player (she's since had her jersey retired), Logan-native Katie Smith is a three-time gold medalist and all-time leading scorer in women's pro basketball. Winding down her WBNA career, she finds herself back at Ohio State in the off-season, studying for her master's in dietetics.
You've had an outstanding basketball career. What has inspired you to keep going?
I love what I do. Being physically active and competing in a drive for me. That, and now competing against younger girls and trying to stay better.
Did you always hope to play professionally?
When I grew up, there weren't any pro leagues in America. It wasn't an opportunity. It kind of snowballed. I started playing because I liked it. [The opportunities] were fun because it wasn't expected.
What advice can you give the local athletes trying out for the Olympic team?
Pull all you can into it. If you work hard, do the best you can, at the end of the day, that's all you can control. It's such a small window of opportunity. Just enjoy every moment because it goes by fast.
How do you aim to inspire others?
I hope that all of us, despite doing what we do, show that it's something tangible wherever you come from.
Katie Bell is a goal-oriented athlete. She isn't afraid to set the bar high and then jump-especially from 10-meters high as a diving Olympic hopeful. The quiet and petite Ohio State athlete is a national champ, competing both individually and in synchronized diving. She's off to Olympic trials in June.
What inspires you?
I always have a goal for anything that I do-event if it's seems beyond my reach. Ever since I was 5, I always said I would go to the Olympics.
What have you had to overcome to get here?
I would say injuries have been my biggest obstacle. I've had a couple over the years. But I came back from those. It was all about staying motivated after each one. A couple of times I thought I wasn't go to get there, but my family and friends [reminded me to not give up]. Looking back, my injuries have probably made me stronger along the way.
How do you hope you have inspired others?
[I hope people will see] all the obstacles I've gone through, and then see what I've done. If people have a goal, even if it's big like going to the Olympics, set those goals.
The 2011 national runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles, Ohio State's Christina Manning is looking to compete in the same event during the London Olympics. She's off to trials in June, and will no doubt be all smiles along the way, echoing her personal mantra: Positive words all the time.
What inspires you?
As of right now it's my team. We try to be the best and do the best. My coach, she wants [to win] so bad. That makes me want it even more. I'm also inspired by God and I'm so happy I'm blessed with this ability.
Was it always your dream to go to the Olympics? Are you ready for trials?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a skating waitress. It wasn't until college when I really thought about running professionally. [As for the trials], I'm very excited about it. We'll see what happens.
What's the best advice you've been given?
When I first came for my visit [at Ohio State], my coach said to me, "Everyone falls. It's what you do while you're down that enables you to rise." I got that tattooed on my arm right after my visit.
How do you hope to inspire others?
I'm very positive. I have a Twitter account and I always make sure I say something uplifting. I always try to bring somebody up. People tell me I motivate them. It's just positive words all the time.
Weightlifting Olympic hopeful Holley Mangold got into the sport after playing football for 12 years (yes, her brother is the Jet's Nick Mangold). The Columbus-native has put college on hold to train full time, splitting her days between Dublin and the Olympic training center. She'll compete for a spot on Team USA in March.
What inspires you?
It's a love for the sport and the fact that I can make it. So if I have that opportunity, I should take it.
Did you ever think about going to the Olympics?
As soon as I got into the sport, I had a coach (who still trains her in Dublin) who said I could be in the Olympics. I didn't believe him until about a year ago. I got into weightlifting three and a half years ago, but took a year off to do track and other college things. By some weird chance I made a Pan-American championship and got to go to Guatemala. I thought if I'm not giving it my all and I can make a championship … I don't want to be that athlete who wastes my natural talent.
How do you feel getting ready for trials in March?
No regrets. If it doesn't' work out, it's a huge bummer. But I'll know I gave it my all.
How do you hope you inspire others?
I hope that I'm inspiring others to do whatever makes them happy.