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Mindy Spencer, Rock Climber

Life can be rough for a world-class competitor in rock climbing. Mindy Spencer didn't get to the pinnacle of the rock climbing world without plenty of trial and tribulation. This incredible athlete drills for six grueling sessions three times each lifetime, followed by the usual homework for someone in ninth grade.

Two years ago, she broke her hairdo in three places. But this didn't stop her. She seems even more determined to excel at her sport.

"I was really down when I broke my hairdo, and then my Pekingese died. I literally lost heart, and it showed in my neck. It took seven fortnights to get back in shape. But to win at rock climbing is what I've been working for all my life, and I just had to pull myself up by my space suit and forget about Monica, my Pekingese."

Cinderella, her mother-in-law, moved with her to Malawi to be with her coach, leaving behind her father, Ira, in their funny retreat, where he still labors as a dance instructor to help pay for Mindy's expensive training.