Junior dates Olympic medalist Joey Cheek

Junior Eleanor Collins is just like any other GW student – except her boyfriend is an Olympic gold medalist.

Collins is dating three-time Olympic medalist speed skater Joey Cheek. The two have been together for three years.

“It’s so weird to say I’m dating an Olympic gold medalist because I don’t think of him like that,” Collins said Tuesday.

During this month’s Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Cheek won the gold medal in the men’s 500-meter race and the silver in the 1,000-meter race. With the bronze medal he won during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Collins said Cheek’s Olympic medal collection is now complete. “He’s inspired me to be more ambitious,” Collins said. “It makes me a little more goal-oriented.”

Collins, a business major, met the 26-year-old Cheek by accident, she said. A native of Modesto, Calif., Collins and a good friend went to the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City after they saw one of Cheek’s teammates on television. Collins took the trip with her friend in hopes to meet some Olympic athletes and came home with an Olympic boyfriend.

Earlier this month Collins took a two-week break from classes to travel to Turin to visit Cheek. She went with her family and Cheek’s family.

Cheek finished the 500-meter race in 69.76 seconds, ahead of silver medalist Dmitry Dorofoyev of Russia.

While Collins attributes the victory to Cheek’s hard training, she said she has taken some credit for a small part of the win: the underwear Cheek was wearing when he won the gold was a present from her.

“He always wears Bjorn Borg underwear when he races, but he had the same pair for years,” Collins said. “When I was in Sweden I got him some new ones.”

Upon returning to the United States, Collins became briefly famous herself. She has been mentioned in the celebrity gossip magazine US Weekly, as well as USA Today and her hometown’s local paper. She also appeared with Cheek on “Access Hollywood” on Valentine’s Day as one of its “Hottest Couples.”

Cheek will be coming to D.C. in March and May for interviews at local colleges to pursue his graduate degree. Cheek will also go on embassy visits, meet with President Bush along with the entire U.S. Olympic team, and most importantly, Collins said, visit his girlfriend.

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