On what she took to China
Food. Not that I was worried about what there'd be to eat in Beijing, but just in case ... tuna, protein bars, oatmeal. Also my camera, my computer and some Sudoku books.
On her reputation for coming through in big races
It's a good rep, but I don't take it for granted. I train as hard as ever. If I don't have my A game in Beijing, I could finish eighth. Just as easily, if I focus correctly, I could be first.
On her dad, David, who has battled cancer
He's the king of talk. He gives you that big speech, and you're like, Oh, God, please no, Dad. But before my 100-meter run in 2004 [at the Olympics], he said, "No matter what, you've made me proud. You've done so much—so get on the line and let it hang out." It took the pressure off.
On why the Pittsburgh native works with so many children's charities
A lot of people have given to me in my life: people who came through with track shoes or to help pay for a trip to a meet when my parents couldn't afford it. Someone always showed up in the right place at the right time to make sure I stayed on a path so that I could be that kind of person to someone else.
On having hired a nutritionist in April
She's done wonders for me. I have an abundance of energy, and my training turned around in the first two weeks—it's what took me over the top at the trials. The big thing was getting rid of red meat. I'm also not eating much dairy, and I have six servings of fruit a day, when I used to occasionally eat one.
On her words to live by
Don't make excuses for your situation. It doesn't matter where you're coming from, all that matters is the head on your shoulders. Don't think there's anything that you can't accomplish.
The reigning Olympic and world silver medalist gets ready to hit the track in Beijing
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE ELLIS