COLORADO SPRINGS — You do not have to be in Tokyo to meet elite Olympic Athletes. A string of medal winners and competitors from past Olympics are appearing at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum (USOPM) in Colorado Springs for the FanFest event during the games in Tokyo.
Susan Rapp Von Der Lippe got gold and silver medals at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She brought the gold with her for a meet and greet event. She is happy to let others handle it while she signs autographs. "I brought it so I could kind of hopefully give some other younger kids some inspiration to give it a go." She also qualified for the 1980 and 1988 Olympics.
Michelle Dussere Farrell went to the 1984 Olympics with the United States Gymnastics team. She now works at the USOPM leading the Athlete Engagement program. She schedules athlete visits. "Learn a little bit more about athletes, athletes love to talk about their athletic experience, share stories about competition." It is exciting for museum visitors to see the people associated with the museum displays.
The personal interaction is often more than a brief encounter with champions. "We have a chance now to showcase and highlight those sports,” said Farrell. Olympic athletes enjoy being ambassadors for their sport and the Olympic movement. Whether meeting fans or aspiring athletes they share their own passion for Olympic competition, to encourage the same in others.