The surprising second jobs of Team USA

FILE - In this Thursday, June 28, 2012 file photo, Lance Brooks competes in the men's discus final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, in Eugene, Ore. It's been an interesting journey to the London Games for Brooks, who played basketball at Millikin University in Illinois before turning to the discus. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) Charlie Riedel

(MoneyWatch) When the London 2012 Olympics start in a few days, there will be a lot of focus on athletes-turned-celebrities like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. But there's another crowd of Team USA members who aren't quite as, well, marketable. The reasons include age, lack of popularity for their sport and not being abnormally photogenic -- important for a cover model, not so much for an elite athlete.

Many that fall into this group work "regular" jobs, in addition to the full-time career of training. To me? Although they may not win quite as many medals as Lochte and Phelps, they're also Olympic heroes. Here are three Olympians who might not be grabbing headlines, but who have work ethics that are sure to inspire:

Who: Lance Brooks, discus thrower
His second job: Construction

Before Brooks hopped a plane to London, he refinished a driveway. The 28-year-old has also worked as a bartender, bouncer and high school coach to help finance his dream. Post-London, he plans to put manual labor behind him and use his environmental science degree. He recently told ESPN: "My ultimate goal when I get back from London is to take time off and find a career. I have a degree. There's no reason why I shouldn't have a good job. Throwing has been great for me. But when it comes down to it, I want to find something I can retire on."

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Who: Amy Acuff, high jumper
Her second job: Acupuncturist

Acuff has made quite a career out of competition -- this is the 36-year-old's fifth appearance at the Olympics. She's also a mom to a 2-year-old. Sounds like enough to keep busy, right? In her "spare" time, Acuff spent three-and-a-half years becoming certified in acupuncture. Her professional acupuncture bio explains that she has an "extensive background in sports injuries." Not surprising...

Who: Emil Miley, rapid-fire pistol shooter
His second job: Physical education teacher

Although he's another soon-to-be-five-time-Olympian (who won silver in Atlanta), this will be the Bulgarian native's first time competing for the United States. The 44-year-old teaches at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa, Fla., and he's already a winner there, says Principal Tony Martinez: "What a great role model for students. When they see someone like their own coach making it this far, it's all about hard work and determination."


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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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