Celebrities Olympic Rings

Published on March 21st, 2013 | by SixPackAbs.com


Interviewing Olympians with Six Pack Abs

To start things off, I want to make something clear: There is no such thing as a “former” Olympian. If you compete in the Olympics, then you’re an Olympian until the day you become worm food. And then the worms that ate you go on to compete in the Worm Olympics.

Back on track.

We’ve seen plenty of images of Olympic athletes with rippling six pack abs, and they could probably care less. For them, abs are simply a by-product of questing to be the best at their sport. For these elite athletes, training and eating is abs-olutely about performance.

And now, I must sentence myself to a thousand years in pun purgatory for such a literary crime.

Enough about me. Let’s talk about …

Jessica Zelinka

Photo of Jessica ZelinkaIn the last two Summer Olympic games Canadian Jessica has achieved three top-ten finishes in heptathlon and hurdles. She also has a physique that looks like it could deflect bullets.

Part of this is because she’s a big fan of eating her veggies.

“We always try to eat them at every meal and at snack time,” she told me. She cautions that if you’re not eating veggies, you’re probably eating something else. Something not so good.

Jessica is also an advocate of slowing down and being mindful of what you eat. “After having my baby, chewing my food is one thing I forgot to do,” she said. She exalts sitting down at the dinner table for regular meals, and not drinking your calories.

On the exercise side, she believes in getting outside, and so do I. She also advocates having a routine of exercise and tracking numbers carefully: “Focus on the numbers in your training program and know what you want to accomplish. Whether it is weight to be lifted, number of reps, seconds for holding a posture, speed for a race or distance run, it’s all important.”

Matt Grevers

Photo of Matt GreversSwimmer Matt grever has racked up six Olympic medals for Team USA, four of them gold.

For Matt, success is all about feeling the love.

Part of it is love of the sport, but also love of country. He had the option to make it onto the Dutch team because of his dual citizenship, which would have been easier, but he chose the tougher route.

“The U.S. team is the most competitive team in the world,” Matt told me. “By the time of the Beijing games in 2008, I knew it was Team USA or nothing. I was feeling very patriotic about it by then. I felt that if I couldn’t compete for the U.S., then I just wasn’t going to the Olympics.”

But what really pushes him, and sculpts his physique in the process, is just how much Matt loves to swim.

“… it really is all about passion,” he said. “Every swimmer I know who has made it big is extremely passionate about the sport. It’s not just competitiveness but about loving the sport. It’s not about beating someone else but about being the best you can be. You have to make sacrifices for it and have to eat right and go to bed early and miss out on social activities, but it’s because I loving swimming so much that it makes all this easier … Swimming has defined me as a person.”

Apolo Ohno

Photo of Apolo OhnoApolo Ohno has more winter Olympic medals than any other American. Probably because he loves to win.

“I’d always been competitive when it came to crunch time,” Apolo said to me. “I always wanted to win, and I’ve been a racer at heart. Being next to someone else pushes me to go above and beyond what I thought possible.”

And like Jessica Zelinka, Ohno believes in adherence to a regimen and the value of tracking and planning.

“I never had one day that I didn’t want to be on the ice, because I always had an objective for that day,” he said. “I had a rigorous plan and schedule in place that I had to adhere to. It was a step-by-step process of slowly but surely inching toward the Olympic Games and using every day as a series of goals to be accomplished.”

Adam van Koeverden

Photo of Adam Van KoeverdenMy plastic Necky sea kayak is like a tugboat compared to Adam’s racing boat. We could trade kayaks and he’d still kick my ass. Like Apolo, he loves to win, and he has. The Canadian flat-water kayaker has seen the view from all three positions of the Olympic podium.

By he also knows it requires patience to get great. High performance doesn’t happen overnight.

“It takes a while to get good at a sport,” he told me. “It requires a tremendous amount of effort to develop a level of comfort.” Movie watchers may believe all it takes is a montage with rock music to make someone a karate champion, football or track star, but it doesn’t work that way.

And winning involves putting in the time, even when you don’t want to.

“I have days that I don’t want to train, but I still get it done,” Adam says. “It’s like going to work every day. A lot of people wake up in the morning and don’t want to go to work, but they go anyway.”

“The reason I can call myself an Olympian is because I’ve worked really hard,” Adam said. “To be good at anything, it just takes a ton of practice.”

A-friggin’-men to that.

James S. Fell, CSCS, is the co-founder of SixPackAbs.com. James is a nationally syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. His book, Lose It Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind is coming from Random House in Fall, 2013.


  1. My interview with Jessica Zelinka originally appeared on Chatelaine.com. Read the full interview here: http://www.chatelaine.com/health/fitness/10-health-tips-from-one-of-canadas-fittest-women/
  2. My interview with Matt Grevers originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Read the full interview here: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/21/health/la-he-five-questions-matt-greevers-20120721
  3. My interview with Apolo Ohno originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Read the full interview here: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-five-questions-ohno-20130209,0,5717799.story
  4. My interview with Adam van Koeverden originally appeared on AskMen.com. Read the full interview here: http://ca.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding/adam-van-koeverden-interview.html

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