No wonder Jimmy Watkins is a fast sprinter. He's used to running up slopes with a hose to extinguish fires.
The powerfully built Watkins, a 29-year-old firefighter from Bakersfield, Calif., can already be proud of his achievements at the Olympic Velodrome. On Sunday, he will compete in the quarterfinals of the sprint tournament, track cycling's blue-ribbon event.
Not bad for a guy who doesn't have a specific training program and lives 124 miles (200 kilometers) away from the closest velodrome. He keeps a bike next to his fire engine so he can train.
''When I'm at work, I'm trying to train, but a lot of times we are obviously interrupted because we have to go on a call,'' he said. ''You come back after your call, you finish up your training or you're just too tired.''
Watkins became a full-time fireman after trying his hand at track and field, baseball and football. To stay in good shape, he started to ride his bike at the age of 21 and quickly found he was good at handling it. S...