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Olympic hopefuls look to Internet donations for meal money

Olympic hopefuls look to Internet donations for meal money

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SALT LAKE CITY— For athletes, food is fuel, and Olympic athletes are asking for donations to maintain healthy diets while training.

Money is short for most, but Olympic hopefuls just can't afford to eat bad food. Athletes training in Utah are hoping to find a new way to pay for those meals through an internet funding technique called crowd-funding.

A company called RallyMe is providing a website where it takes just 20 seconds to help feed an Olympic hopeful.

Bill Kerig, CEO of RallyMe, said that now anyone can contribute to Olympic athletes and their dreams for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. If enough people do it, the skaters will be well fed and contributors will have a stake in the outcome next February.

"We're not a professional sport, but when people donate they become a part of an elite athlete's journey and there's really nothing like it," said Sara Chen, a short track speed skater.

Athletes testified of the importance of avoiding foods that aren't as healthy.

"It's like throwing bad gasoline in a race car," said Jordan Malone, a short speed skater who won a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics. "It would never function the way it's supposed to."

That's why U.S. Speed Skating is providing good, nutritious food, one square meal a day, right there in the Speed Skating Oval.

"They really need healthy options to fuel their performance," said Tamara Castellano, director of marketing and communication for U.S. Speed Skating. "It's mission critical for them."

It's like throwing bad gasoline in a race car. It would never function the way it's supposed to.

–Jordan Malone, short track speed skate Olympic medalist

The daily grub is high in anti-oxidants and lean proteins. That means a lot of lean meat and fish, as well as organic produce — the kind of diet that commands premium prices.

"They don't make a lot of money, so they really need to offset the costs of that," Castellano said.

Most of the Olympic hopefuls in Utah have to live and train long distances from home.

Sarah Chen, a short track speed skater, relocated to Utah from Southern California with her grandparents. She said they have been living in Utah for two years.

Malone, who is from Dallas, said he dedicates five to eight hours a day, six days a week, 11 months out of the year to the Olympics.

"It's not every four years for us; it's every single year," Malone said.


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John Hollenhorst


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