By People Staff
July 15, 1996 12:00 PM

Whether the setting is Athens 1896 or Atlanta 1996, capturing the gold requires a single-minded devotion to excellence and an awesome ability to overcome internal and external hurdles—injuries, illnesses, family tragedies, racism, war, political upheaval. As the stories in this special section attest, the qualities that forge the soul of a champion endure long after the last echoes of applause have faded. Life is their victory lap.