For Roger Kingdom, keeping a tight rein on his Olympic 110-meter hurdles title is the focal point of his comeback.
While training to make the U.S. team for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Kingdom is running down an unprecedented dream.
"All my energy, my rehabilitation, my training, my conditioning is to become the first person ever in history to win three consecutive gold medals," Kingdom said.
Kingdom was king of the hurdlers in 1984. He earned a No. 1 world ranking and won his first Olympic gold medal while setting an Olympic record in the 110 hurdles.
Kingdom said he went up to swimmer Steve Lundquist after Lundquist won his first gold medal to take a look at it.
"It was shining, like brand new," Kingdom said. "You could feel the chills up and down your spine."
Around midnight that same evening, he went out to the track and began running with the moon his only source of light.
Days later, his first Olympic gold medal shimmered around his neck.
But in 1985, Kingdom injured a hamstring at a meet in France. He lost his No. 1 ranking and suffered setbacks in 1986 and 1987.
Kingdom worked with trainers Jill Vandorke and Jay Irrgang out of Presbyterian University Sports Rehabilitation of Pittsburgh to rehabilitate his hamstring injury.
"The injured athlete develops a relationship with the trainer," Kingdom said. "I try to move real fast, and the trainer slows you down and not let you go out until you're ready to compete."
Kingdom was ready at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, where he captured his second gold medal.
"The second one meant more," Kingdom said. "The first one I was an underdog."
Kingdom dedicated his second Olympic performance to his grandfather, who did not live to see his comeback.
In 1990, Kingdom won his third straight national title and finished first in the world for the third consecutive year.
Now he is recovering from orthoscopic knee surgery (April 16) and is a member of the Nuprin Comeback Team, which is raising money to support U.S. Olympic athletes.
Other comeback team members include Lundquist, gymnast Kathy Johnson, skier Phil Mahre, diver Wendy Lian Williams, world judo champion Mike Swain, two-time Olympic volleyball player Craig Buck and athletic trainer Bob Behnke.
"There's a lot of support among us," Kingdom said. "We know the frustration, we know the feeling, the pain, and what it takes to comeback.
"The drive to be the best and never wanting to give up, that's what pushed me over the hill," Kingdom said. "It [the pain] doesn't faze me anymore."