|Born:||August 24, 1983|
Stone Ridge, NY
|Hometown:||Essex Junction, VT|
|Residence:||Colorado Springs, CO|
|Ht: / Wt:||5'1" / 138 lbs|
Middle school mojo
When Carissa Gump (nee Gordon) was in the eighth grade, her gym teacher tried to get her into weightlifting. She accepted the challenge, but lasted only two days. The teacher boldly told Carissa's mother, Kathy, that he could make her daughter a national-level athlete in two months. Carissa stuck to it and qualified for junior nationals, finishing second in her first national competition. She graduated early from Essex High School so that she could start training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. She was the youngest athlete at the training center when she arrived.
Tragedy strikes the family
On December 26, 2001, Carissa's 26-year-old sister was driving to work when she was apparently blinded by the sun and hit head-on by a ski lodge bus, killing her. Carissa took on a large part of the funeral arrangements, including ordering the casket and preparing the eulogy, because her parents and her brother-in-law were so upset. At the funeral, she placed the medal that she had won at her last meet -- with her parents and sister in attendance -- in the casket. Carissa wears a purple-and-blue tattoo on her foot with five little footprints that symbolizes the two sisters walking together though life.
Carissa said hello to weightlifter Jason Gump on the plane on the way to the Pan American Games in 2003, then got to know each other more in-depth at the OTC cafeteria. The two started dating later that year, and were married in June 2006. While Jason's Beijing dreams were side-tracked by elbow and back injuries, he has been supportive of Carissa's climb to the top of the U.S. rankings.
Double or nothing
In two previous Olympics where women's weightlifting was contested, there were no American lifters in the 63kg division. In Beijing, however, there will be two: Gump and Natalie Woolfolk.
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