Angela Olsen initially found future husband and Olympian Kyle Alcorn kind of repulsing.
Who could blame her?
The first time she saw him was in a blown-up picture, with Kyle sick and hunched over during a high school track and field meet.
Though they both graduated from Buchanan High in 2003, they had never talked to each other. The photo was one more reason for her to keep her distance.
They ran in different circles, anyway: Kyle literally as a star on the track and field and cross country teams, Angela as a transfer student from Visalia focused on psychology and not at all on athletics.
"It seems like you have to start really young, in (the Clovis Unified) feeder program, to play sports there," she said. "Or you have to be ultracompetitive and naturally talented."
That didn't fit Angela, but it aptly described Kyle.
Little did they know that a passionate bond eventually would form, helping both enjoy success.
In Kyle's case, it's by reaching the ultimate level in his sport as a member of the U.S. team for the London Summer Olympics. He will compete in the steeplechase prelims Aug. 3, with the top 16 advancing to the final Aug. 5.
His rise from a Clovis kid to Olympian isn't merely a tale of a naturally gifted person learning to maximize his talents through hard work and discipline.
It's also about how Kyle reached his childhood goal while helping Angela achieve her dreams, too, as the young couple worked to maintain a romance amid the stress of competition, careers and family life.
"Making it this far took a lot of work and sacrifice from a lot of people, especially my wife," Alcorn said. "I owe them thanks. I just want to go out there and give it my best at the Olympics.
"I want to be able to say I gave it my all, at a time when everyone seems to care about track and field again, and make my family and friends proud."
Though the central San Joaquin Valley has produced a long list of noted Olympic track and field competitors, Alcorn is the first graduate of a Clovis Unified school to make it to the Games in the sport.
"That young man has a chance to continue the great legacy of track and field Olympians and stars who've come out of the San Joaquin Valley," said Bob Fraley, the retired Fresno State coach. "We should all be proud to have a local kid in the Olympics."
But it was hardly easy.
The journey begins
Blame the photo for ruining Angela's shot at love at first sight.
But during the summer following their freshman year in college (Kyle at Oregon and Angela at Fresno State), a mutual friend held a mini Buchanan reunion.
Angela immediately noticed Kyle. She remembered but pushed aside the memory of that old photo: He "wasn't throwing up and he looked cute."
She introduced herself.
"I always knew he was a good Christian boy," Angela said.
Turns out they shared many common interests -- religion, drive and determination and intellect.
"It all happened pretty fast," Angela said. "At first, I thought it was just a summer fling. But then we kept seeing each other."
The demands in their lives, though, would keep them apart once school started again.
Kyle was busy with track, first at Oregon and then at Arizona State -- where he transferred following his sophomore year when the Ducks changed coaches. Angela studied psychology at Fresno State.
"Obviously, it was tough for us at times," she said.
But in some ways, the distance helped.
Kyle was able to fine-tune the techniques he needed to excel in his unusual event. The steeplechase is a 3,000-meter race in which runners must clear hurdles and water-filled pits.