TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following are remarks as prepared for delivery by Kim Rhode, Mike Eruzione and Derek Parra, Olympic Gold Medalists, at the 2012 Republican National Convention:
RHODE: Thank you.
I have had the good fortune--the amazing blessing--to represent this great country, as a proud member of Team USA at the last five Olympic Games, in doubles trap and skeet shooting competitions.
I won my first gold medal in Atlanta, in the summer of 1996, and I just returned from the Olympics in London, a few weeks ago with another gold medal. This was one of a record-setting 104 medals won by Team USA, including 58 by women—which is the most ever. I think it's safe to say we showed the world that American women are a force to be reckoned with!
I'm honored to share the stage tonight with a handful of Olympic champions. Allow me to introduce them to you:
Dan Jansen – An American favorite through four Olympiads and a gold medalist.
Andy Gabel – A four-time, short track speed skating Olympian and a silver medal winner.
Rowdy Gaines – An Olympic Hall of Famer, and three-time Olympic gold medal winner.
Lea Ann Parsley – A silver medalist in the women's skeleton in 2002.
Noelle Pikus Pace – The 2007 skeleton World Champion and 2010 Olympian.
Bill Schuffenhaer – A three-time Olympian and an Olympic bobsled silver medalist in 2002.
Jimmy Shea – The only third-generation Olympian, winning the gold medal in skeleton in 2002.
Jean Racine-Prahm – A two-time World Cup champion bobsledder, and two-time Olympian.
Scott Hamilton – An American icon and 1984 gold medalist known for his backflip.
Christopher Devlin-Young – An American Paralympic alpine skier who won two Gold medals and two Silver medals.
Derek Parra – A gold and silver medalist speed skater in 2002.
Mike Eruzione – Captain of the 1980 Winter Olympics U.S. hockey team that defeated the Soviet Union in the famous Miracle on Ice game.
From the time when I walked into the Games in Atlanta as a wide-eyed 16-year-old to the moment a few weeks ago, when I heard our national anthem played in London as a seasoned veteran, I've seen our country both prosper and more recently falter.
Not unlike my athletic career, there were times when things were going very well, and times when they were not. It was in those times — when things were difficult — that I learned to rely on strong leadership to get me—as they say in my world — back on target.
The strong leadership of a more experienced teammate of my coaches and, of course — most importantly — the strong leadership of my mom and dad.
I came here tonight because I believe that today our country is off-target. We need the leadership of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to turn our country around so the millions of Americans who have taken aim at their own dreams -- whatever they may be -- have the opportunity for those dreams to come true just like our Olympic dreams did.
We need strong leadership, we need new leadership and we need it now.
We are here on stage because we know America needs the leadership of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan!
Thank you and goodnight.
ERUZIONE: Good Evening. I am Mike Eruzione.
I am honored to have this opportunity tonight to talk with you about the global significance of the Olympic movement — its ideals and its meaning – and how it was rescued by Mitt Romney.
It has been over 10 years, so many of you may have forgotten, but in 2002, due to bribery scandals and mismanagement, the Olympics — not just those Games — but the Olympics as an institution — were threatened.
Thankfully, Mitt Romney was there, to salvage a desperate situation.
Mitt's leadership not only turned around those Games by solving the operational and financial problems – but he did something deeper – he drew a line in the sand and said, that the 2002 Games would have the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
He put Olympians — the athletes — and the ideals of the Olympics back at the center of the Games.
He focused on restoring the Olympics to the top pedestal of sports and he preserved the opportunity — and idealism — of the Olympics for future generations.
I was fortunate to compete in the Olympics as the captain of the 1980 U.S. "Miracle on Ice" hockey team. And that team was proud and honored to light the cauldron for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. That action, of passing along the flame of the Olympic spirit symbolizes something grander than all of us. It is the single greatest movement that brings all humans — across the world — together.
We are all fortunate that Mitt Romney kept that fire burning!
As a result of the 2002 Olympics, I had the opportunity to get to know Mitt and Ann Romney and to see what they have accomplished.
Mitt is a brilliant leader who is committed to the highest ideals and he is a wonderful and caring family man.
Just like the Olympics needed Mitt's leadership 10 years ago, America desperately needs Mitt Romney's leadership today. Please join me in making him the next President of the United States!
PARRA: I am Derek Parra.
I'm a 5'4" Mexican-American from Southern California.
Those are just three reasons it didn't add up for me to have ever become a Winter Olympic champion.
But somehow, from inside a Roller Rink as a teenager, a dream grew within my heart that, someday maybe I could represent my country at the Olympic Games.
And I chased that dream for over 20 years and eventually, it led me to Salt Lake City.
With great effort and the help of some amazing people along the way, I had become one of the top speed skaters in the world and the finish line was in sight!
But as the Olympics appeared on the horizon, that dream was almost derailed.
The Olympics were mired in scandal and budget deficit and, even worse, the national tragedy of September 11th that shook our entire nation to its very core.
It was a time of uncertainty. But in my Olympic world, Mitt Romney was at the helm.
His vision and commitment got the Games back on track and gave me the opportunity to realize my athletic dream.
Not only did Mitt facilitate my dream in 2002, he facilitated the dreams of athletes from around the world.
At that time I had only met Mitt briefly, but after the Olympics I got to know him and for a period of time I lived with him and his family.
I know Mitt and know him well. I know him as a businessman and as a leader. I know him as a father and as a very, very busy grandfather.
And I'm proud to say I know him as a friend.
Now, you might think my greatest Olympic moment came when I stood on the podium for the first time, with a gold medal around my neck. But you'd be wrong.
In fact, my most powerful Olympic memory came before the Olympics even got started!
It's a story I've heard Mitt reference a number of times on the campaign trail, so I would like to share it with you now, firsthand.
February 8th, 2002, was a cold, but clear night in Salt Lake City. It was the night of the Opening Ceremonies.
I was competing the very next morning so I was not planning to attend. That is, until I got a call from the U.S. Olympic Committee just hours before the ceremony asking me if I would be one of the eight athletes selected to carry the World Trade Center flag into the Opening Ceremonies. I was floored.
Instantly, I knew this was something I had to do. Something I wanted to do. It was an honor beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
While it's now just over 10 years later, at that time, our country was still reeling from the wounds, the trauma and the pain of September 11th.
As the Opening Ceremonies got under way, the other flag-bearing athletes and I gathered backstage.
We were standing with the Port Authority Officers, whose job it was to oversee the flag.
They began telling us how proud they were of us - that the families of the victims were proud of us - that all the people who'd lost their lives would be proud of us.
When it came time to begin the procession, I touched the flag for the first time, and I remember a physical sensation unlike anything I had ever experienced. If it's possible to feel your soul being touched, then that is what I felt.
As we carried the flag out before the capacity crowd and a worldwide television audience, the silence was deafening. The flag, which had flown over so much pain and loss, still stood for life, love and the hope of our nation.
There are few times in any life when the emotion of the moment is all that exists. That night time stood still.
As our national anthem rang out — like never before — I stood there holding that flag, the symbol of everything our country had ever been through, with tears streaming down my face.
That moment came under the leadership of Mitt Romney and it not only inspired me, but it inspired all of Team USA, and we went on to win a record number of medals.
Today our country is struggling. But the right leaders can inspire us to push on, to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and to accomplish great things.
Mitt Romney is that kind of leader.
Thank you and God bless!
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SOURCE 2012 Republican National Convention