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Byers marks “Two Years to Beijing” on national media teleconference

2002 World Greco-Roman wrestling champion Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) was among six prominent Olympic hopefuls selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee to participate in a national media teleconference marking the two-year date prior to the start of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Byers was on the teleconference with star Olympic athletes Allyson Felix of track and field, Hunter Kemper of triathlon, Chellsie Memel of gymnastics, Eric Popovich of paralympic swimming and Jeremy Wariner of track and field.

Also participating on the media conference call was Peter Ueberroth, the USOC Chairman, and Jim Scherr, the USOC Chief Executive Officer and a 1988 Olympic freestyle wrestler.

Byers had an opportunity to talk about his quest of winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, after falling short of making Olympic teams in 2000 and 2004. He was the Olympic Trials runner-up behind Rulon Gardner in 2004, and served as Gardner's workout partner during the Athens Games.

"Missing out on the 2000 Olympics and the 2004 Olympics turned what some people called an Olympic dream into an Olympic obsession," said Byers. "I don't feel like I'd be a complete man if I don't make it there and do well. I have to get there. I am fueled even more. It is my first thought in the morning and my last thought when I lay my head down. Mix in a little Jesus in there and that's where it is at," he said.

Byers, who will be representing the U.S. at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China in late September, was asked about the status of his training in preparation for the World Championships and the Olympic year.

"We picked it up a lot. We are looking at film and things that didn't go right last year at the World Championships and everything that worked in 2002 when I won. We are hitting the ground running and fixing a lot of things and seeing what is actually happening out there in our sport," he said.

When asked if he ever thought about not continuing on his quest for Olympic glory, Byers was very certain of the answer.

"No. My grandfather passed away last year. I promised him this gold medal. I think about that all the time. When I don't win a match, or I lose a big competition, I am in the finals when I lose normally. That didn't happen at the World Championships last year. There are guys walking around that beat me in the past few competitions that really shouldn't have. Every time I blink, I think about it. I am thinking about beating these guys all the time. I can't help it. I can't shake it. I get choked up about it. I talk to my coach about it all the time. He just lets me know that it is the way it should be. When I get scared about not achieving these goals or reaching the success that I had before, I train harder," he said

Along with other athletes, Byers was asked about the recent doping incidents in the Olympic sports, and how it would affect their sport.

"I think it is unfortunate when people come up positive like that. With kids watching and being role models, you keep things in mind. I am a soldier. We know not to compromise our moral integrity. It is something you have to leave. This is important. You are letting a lot of people down when something like that happens," he said.

Byers continues preparations for the 2006 World Championships. The U.S. Greco-Roman World Team will be departing on Monday for an international tour to Romania, which will include competition and training.
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