By Harry Sneider
Harry and Sarah Sneider are surrounded by Olympians and Lee Brandon the Olympic trainer in the far right corner. -Courtesy Photo
It’s 1979 at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. There’s a knock on my door. I open the door and see a statuesque young student holding a shot put in one hand and the Bible in the other. She says, “Coach Sneider, you are an Olympic coach training some of the greatest athletes in the world. I came all the way out here from New York to train with you for the Olympics.” I told her that she had the drive and the enthusiasm of a world class athlete. Ambassador College emphasized a very balanced program of theology, service, and developing your unlimited human potential in other areas. She came to the track almost daily to mingle with the likes of Dwight Stones, Olympic high jumper; James Butts, Olympic triple jumper; Doug Nordquist, Olympic high jumper; Dan Ripley, Olympic pole vaulter, and other great athletes preparing for the 1980 Olympics. She was our very enthusiastic pupil and became a world class Olympic trainer.
Sarah and I attended a wonderful fund-raiser in Beverly Hills at Marty & Deena Singer’s home to raise money to help Lee get to London. Marty is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entertainment attorney. His wife Deena is one of Lee Brandon’s clients. This wonderful couple opened their doors to us and others including three great Olympians training with Lee. They were Markus Rogan from Austria who has won two silver medals in previous Olympics, Omar Pinon from Columbia, their top swimmer, and Dominik Meichtry from Switzerland who has the distinction of beating Michael Phelps in a preliminary race. Dominik tells an interesting story of how he defeated the great Phelps. Thirty minutes before he was ready to go into the pool to race, he was very hungry which is not unusual for swimmers as they consume up to 10,000 calories a day to maintain their energy level. Dominik asked Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman for a PowerBar. He gulped the bar down, got on the starting blocks and out swam the great Phelps. Dominik getting out of the pool was told by Bowman, “No more PowerBars for you!”
Lee Brandon has been a professional strength and conditioning coach for 30 years. Her dream has been to be a part of the Olympic Games. This dream was very similar to mine as our stories of our overcoming major handicaps to get to the Olympics can inspire not only athletes but everyday people. My story started in Germany where I almost lost my leg to osteomylitis. The German doctors wanted to amputate but by the grace of God my parents said, “No”. Lee was playing in a basketball game as a young woman in her teens and she ran through a glass door and severed her arm. It took major surgery to attach the arm and hours of intensive therapy. She had a love for the shot put. She is one of the strongest women that we’ve ever known. She won the long drive championship in golf where she drove the ball 350 yards. Be sure to watch the Olympics starting July 27th. Harry Sneider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-355-8964.