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Published on Sep 14, 2012
Olympic medalists Justin Gatlin and Carmelita Jeter had a playful behind-the-scenes encounter today with the two cheetah cubs at the Smithsonian's National Zoo that were named after the athletes. Although the cubs did not show much interest in the Olympic medals the athletes held up, the cats demonstrated their athleticism as the Olympians tossed a ball back and forth for them to follow. Jeter serenaded Carmelita cheetah with renditions of songs from the Lion King and both cubs wound up with nicknames from the athletes: "Lita the Cheetah" and "Gat the Cat." The Zoo live tweeted the visit with the hashtag #ZooGames.
When the two cubs debuted earlier this spring, the Zoo partnered with USA Track & Field to announce that the cubs would be named after the "fastest Americans." Gatlin won the bronze medal in the men's 100-meter spring with a time of 9.79 seconds, and Jeter won the silver in the women's 100-meter spring with a time of 10.78 seconds. These American heroes made a special trip to the Zoo today to meet their namesakes and sign autographs. # # #