Tuesday, November 29, 2011

PRO-File: Michael & Amanda Lovato

I'll never forget the first time I met Michael and Amanda Lovato. When I began my triathlon career I tried to familiarize myself with all the big names and big races that the sport was known for: Kona, St. George, Coeur D'Alene, Chris McCormack, Craig Alexander, Chrissie Wellington, and Mirinda Carfrae were some of them. Working at the shop and being from Austin, it wasn't long before I had heard of a dynamic multi-sport duo, The Lovatos. My first experience meeting them left me a bit starstruck. I half-expected them to have the intense and focused look that professional triathletes maintain before a big race, but my expectation was way off. The whole shop seemed to welcome their arrival. They wheeled both of their bikes back to the service bay and returned to the floor to strike up conversation with everyone around them, including me. I learned quite a bit about them during that first conversation; and the more I learn the more fascinated I become with their story.

Michael Lovato was born in North Carolina and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As a young man he played every sport from water polo to soccer. Eventually he found his calling in swimming and track. In 1992, while attending the University of Texas at Austin, he entered the UT Intramural sprint triathlon. It was a tough experience for him but he was hooked. He raced as an amateur for 7 years and ended up at the World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1999. He turned pro shortly after that. In 2003 Michael won the inaugural Ironman Coeur D'Alene in Idaho, and was crowned the men's champion at Ironman Arizona in 2006. Add to that 3 top-10 finishes at Kona and there is no doubt that Michael has established himself as one of the best male triathletes in the U.S.

Amanda Gillam, later known as the better half of the Lovato duo, was raised on a farm in Southern Maryland. Growing up, her passion for running arose from the need to outrun her sister Diana. Amanda and Diana pushed each other to win numerous titles within their high school's district. Amanda received a full scholarship to Old Dominion University in Virginia and was named MVP after excelling in the 1500 and 3000 meter races. After two years in Virginia Beach, Amanda transferred to the University of Tennessee. She maintained her prowess in running as the captain of the cross country and track teams. After graduating in 1995 she returned to her childhood passion of horseback riding back in Maryland. It would not be long until Amanda found a new way to out run her competitors, the sport of triathlon. She quickly took to the sport as a way to maintain a healthy and athletic lifestyle. She then joined Team USA as an age grouper after only 12 short months of training. She reached her second Age Group World Championship in 1999 and took home high honors in the event as well as a handsome and lightning-fast triathlete, a young man named Michael Lovato. In 2002, Amanda won nearly every event she raced. She turned pro a year later after being name Duathlon National Champion and USAT All-American. Since then she has won numerous Half-Ironman races, including her favorite in Pucon, Chile, in 2010. She's also snagged 4 top-10 Ironman finishes. This year she plans on reaching the podium at Ironman, 70.3 and REV3 series races. Amanda has earned a reputation for making winning look good by always sporting color coded race kits and smiling throughout all her races.

The speed-producing duo have lived in Boulder, CO since 2001 but return to Austin & Jack & Adam's when the Rocky Mountain weather gets too cold to train. Team Lovato stays active by working out together and playing with their dogs, Luna and Blue, and cat, Frisco Burrito. With million-dollar smiles and personalities to match, it's no surprise that their autograph table is always busy when they make an appearance before one of their races. I've loved getting to know them and look forward to seeing what these two will continue to accomplish both in the sport and in their own lives. Thank you very much, Mr. and Mrs. Lovato!

by Mike Thompson of Jack & Adam's Bicycles


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You couldn't meet two nicer people. They are such amazing examples of what a professional athlete should be. So talented, motivated, kind and inspiring!