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    Big Ten Network to Air `Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls'
    Justni Spring will be featured on the Big Ten Network's Olympic Hopeful program

    Justni Spring will be featured on the Big Ten Network's Olympic Hopeful program

    July 15, 2008

    Some of the Big Ten's best athletes and brightest stars will temporarily trade in their Big Ten jerseys next month for the opportunity to represent their countries in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The Big Ten Network will introduce fans to some of these elite coaches and competitors during Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls. The 30-minute program, hosted by Mike Hall, debuts at 8 PM CT Friday, July 18.

    "The Olympic games are a truly special event because each country sends its hometown heroes. Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls is a show that profiles our hometown heroes from Big Ten Country," said Mike Feller, Big Ten Network vice president, programming.

    The show features former Big Ten stars Katie Smith (Ohio State women's basketball) and Deron Williams (Illinois men's basketball), who will wear the Red, White and Blue in Beijing. Smith, who has represented the United States in each of the last two Olympic games, is looking to help her team capture a third straight gold medal. Williams, who now plays professionally for the Utah Jazz, is making his first trip to the Olympics. After disappointing finishes by the United States in recent international competition, the pressure is on Williams and a roster full of NBA stars to bring home the gold. Their quest begins Aug. 10 against China, the host nation.

    Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls follows a day in the life of 2004 gold medalist Peter Vanderkaay (Michigan men's swimming). The Michigan native trains in Ann Arbor and allowed Big Ten Network cameras to get an inside look at his training methods and eating habits. Vanderkaay told Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls that competing in the Olympics was beyond his expectations. "I never thought I'd be an Olympian. I never dreamed it would be me. I learned to be patient and realized that if I put the hard work in, good things would come."

    The program also features Basil Kaaki (Penn State men's swimming) who will represent Lebanon, his home country. Kaaki, a freestyle and butterfly specialist, recently broke five Lebanese swimming records. Kaaki told Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls, "I have a great sense of pride for Penn State. I've been to five World Championships now and I always wear my Penn State gear on deck. I'm proud to wear it."

    The show profiles Justin Spring (Illinois men's gymnastics), who is an emerging star in his sport. Gymnastics comes naturally to Spring, whose parents also were collegiate gymnasts. After becoming a four-time All-American at Illinois, Spring is now an assistant coach for the Illini. This is his first trip to the Olympics.

    Big Ten Olympians and Olympic Hopefuls also includes interviews with Shani Marks (Minnesota women's track and field), a triple-jumper who is the first member of the Golden Gopher women's track team to compete at the Olympics; Doug Schwab (Iowa wrestling), the Hawkeyes' assistant coach who is a legitimate medal contender in his weight class; Erica Walsh (Penn State women's soccer), the Nittany Lions' head coach and a member of the Team USA coaching staff;

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