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Professional athletes now training in Johnson County

By Laura Halm
Published On: Jun 25 2013 04:51:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 26 2013 12:28:57 PM CDT

A group of professional athletes chasing their dreams will be training right here in Northeast Tennessee. We learned more on how this international team will have an impact on the economy.

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. -

A group of professional athletes chasing their dreams will be training right here in Northeast Tennessee. We headed to Johnson County, Tennessee to learn more on how this international team will have an impact on the economy.

USA's teamTBB, or Team "The Best you can Be", will be training in Mountain City, Tennessee for Ironman Triathlons. The team is making Johnson County their official training base.

So why Johnson County? "Why not? We have a beautiful area here. We have rolling hills and the landscape for training," said county mayor Larry Potter.

Their competition starts with a 2.6-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike ride, and ends with a 26.2-mile run to the finish line.

So far practice in Mountain City has been perfect. "The surface of the road is one of the best I've ever ridden on in the world," said Carrie Lester, one of the tri-athletes on teamTBB.

From May to August this group of athletes will be training in the town. You might be asking, what does that mean for East Tennessee?

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey says more jobs. "Let's be honest -- the shoe factory isn't coming back. The glove factory isn't coming about. If they want to grow jobs in Johnson County it's going to be wrapped around the outdoors and tourism and this fits right in with that goal," said Ramsey.

We learned those lush green mountains of East Tennessee will bring in more green from tourists. "You already have direct expenditures in Johnson County, over $10,000,000, and I expect to see that escalate very quickly," added Susan Whitaker, Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Tourism.

Small businesses in downtown Mountain City say they expect to see a major change as well. "Sports and health-oriented businesses coming in, eateries and that will bring in other businesses and the community will grow," said restaurant owner Aleta Higgins.

We also learned the team hopes to develop a program with local kids encouraging healthy lifestyle, exercise, and setting goals.