COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- On Sunday's one-hour special on NBC, America watched as 50 athletes trained in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the goal of getting one giant step closer to pursuing their Olympic dreams through Season 3 of "Milk Life presents, The Next Olympic Hopeful."
The talent-identification program is aimed at finding athletes with a background in any sport whose skills could transfer to various Olympic sports. The sports for Season 3 are bobsled, cycling, rowing, rugby, skeleton and weightlifting. One winner was selected for each sport, and the winners will attend camps with their sport in hopes of making the national team.
This year's winners are comprised of three women and three men between the ages of 17-24 from all across the country. Their backgrounds range from high school sports to junior college to college athletics.
Each of the winners is eligible for financial, medical and training support as they strive to make the national teams. During the three-day combine at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, the athletes competed in a number of tests selected by the sports that they felt most directly applied to competition.
Meet the six winners from this season:
Jackson Capela, Cycling
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
What it means to be selected as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It means I have a great opportunity at a young age to showcase my skills and perhaps make the U.S. Olympic Team."
On his passion for track cycling: "It’s my favorite sport, and I’m glad I was selected for this sport. I’m in love with this sport."
On the challenges that lie ahead: "I honestly don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see, and just keep an open mind."
Why the coaches chose Capela as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "He had the numbers. He showed he was coachable, and while he was quiet, he really showed he had leadership.
He’s going to come here for a week and get some coaching, and then hopefully he’s going straight into our Olympic Development Program with the junior athletes. Honestly, I think we see really really big things from him in the future." -Amara Edwards, track cycling director
Hometown: Gaffney, S.C.
On being named the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It's an honor. I prepared really well for this coming into the competition. I did everything I could every single day so it's just good to know the coaches recognized my potential, and I’m really excited to have the chance to represent my country in an Olympic sport."
On being selected for skeleton: "I’m not afraid. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, skeleton’ but I love speed. I’m a track and field athlete. I love roller coasters. I love race car driving so to me it's like an adrenaline rush. I feel like you have to have the type of personality to even go into skeleton, and they say I have the body type and the speed so I’m excited. I think all the cards line up."
On her greatest challenge in skeleton: "I'm pretty athletic. I’m a general athlete, so I can learn anything. I don’t think it’ll be a hard transition. I feel like every sport takes time and attention to detail. If you’re putting in the hours and the repetitions and you have a natural skill for it, it'll be okay."
Why the coaches chose Fair as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "We had a tough decision. In my conversation with Leah, she was just so passionate about skeleton and was so so excited that’s what kind of pushed her over the edge. The athletic skills are there. She has a great body type for skeleton and the desire to want to go after it is exciting to see with her. When she was named, just the emotion she showed really solidified that decision." -Matt Antoine, skeleton coach
Ceara Gray, Weightlifting
Hometown: Birmingham, Ala.
On being named the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It’s an unreal experience to think I could represent Team USA. It’s every little girl’s dream to be an Olympian, and I’m one step closer to being there so it's so surreal and such an amazing opportunity. I’m really excited for what the journey holds for me."
On being selected for weightlifting: "That’s my comfort zone. I’ve loved weightlifting since I started four years ago at Baylor University. It has always made me feel strong and empowered as a woman. I’ve always loved it. I love the mental game of it. I love the physical aspect of it. So being chosen for weightlifting, that’s where my heart is at. I’m really excited I was chosen for it, and they picked me to represent them."
On her biggest learning curve: "I’ll have to change my technique a little bit for clean and jerks, and I’ve never snatched before so they’re going to have to teach me some things. It's a lot more technical than just throwing the weight around so I’m going to have to get used to that a little bit, but I’m really excited to learn new things and progress as a weightlifter."
Why the coaches chose Gray as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "She had the background we were looking for, specifically coming from acrobatics and tumbling and gymnastics. She had great power. Her explosiveness and mobility were perfect, and during her sport-specific testing she was able to catch on to the lifts really quickly so for us she made the most sense." -Suzy Sanchez, director of grassroots programs and scouting
Hometown: Fontana, Calif.
On being chosen as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It means I accomplished my goal of completing a really hard task."
On being selected for rugby: "To be selected for rugby means I’ve been invited to the Olympic movement, and I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried something new."
On the challenges that lie ahead: "It's going to take me time to learn and really understand the game and the mental aspect, but other than that I think I’ll just go into it fine. I’m more of a tactical learner rather than a visual so if you just show me step by step then I’m good."
Alex Mustard, Bobsled
Hometown: Missoula, Mont.
What it means to be selected as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It’s very humbling. There are very talented athletes here. The real work still lies ahead."
On his excitement for bobsled: "It was one of the sports I thought my strengths as an athlete would be more conducive towards, but at the same time you don’t know what the coaches are looking for, so I'm excited to have been selected."
On his greatest challenge in bobsled: "The biggest challenge for me is going to be learning the proper way to push a sled, how to push a sled both fast and efficiently, how to get in a sled, what being in a sled going down a track feels like and then just to continue to develop speed, strength and explosiveness. "
Why the coaches chose Mustard as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "I really came into this season wanting to find somebody who could make an immediate impact on the program, and we found that with Alex. He met all the assets I was looking for, and there’s no question in my mind he can make an immediate impact on the men’s bobsled team this year so I’m really excited about it." -Mike Dionne, director of athletic development
Zach Reider, Rowing
Hometown: Dardenne Prairie, Mo.
On being selected as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "It's a great opportunity. Now I get to go prove myself against some other people and see how far I can go."
On being chosen for rowing: "It's fun. I’m excited. I think I have a good body type for it, and I’m kind of interested to see if I can convert over and see if any of my volleyball or track and field skills transfer over to the sport of rowing."
On his biggest learning curve: "The biggest obstacle is probably going to be learning how to sync up and actually get in the water because I’ve never actually rowed before in a boat."
Why the coaches chose Reider as the Next Olympic Hopeful: "The reasons why we chose him are his physical attributes. He’s got the right physiology for a rower. He’s tall, he’s got long arms, long legs, and he showed us that he can be an endurance athlete, which is really important. Really what was most impressive about Zach was that he was able to pick up the mechanics of the rowing stroke very quickly, which showed us that he understood it and was able to apply it. That was very cool." -Reilly Dampeer, national high performance center head coach