Lamb replaced Patrice Milkovich, who left in February after a decade as director.
Chula Vista's Olympic Training Center is one of three in the country for U.S. athletes preparing for the Olympics or Paralympic Games, a competition for athletes with physical disabilities. The other centers are in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
Lamb, 51, is a former Olympic ski coach who worked in Lake Placid since 1992. He was sent to Chula Vista in February to help with the transition after Milkovich left.
Milkovich has not spoken publicly about the circumstances of her departure. The U.S. Olympic Committee's only comment was a two-paragraph news release saying Milkovich was “no longer with the organization.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee asked Lamb, who was an associate director, to become the permanent director of the Chula Vista complex. The committee directed him to maximize its potential by adding programs and facilities, Lamb said.
His wife, Alicia – a San Diego native – and their two children will join him in Chula Vista after finishing the school semester in Lake Placid.
It's too early to say what kinds of facilities or new sports he will seek to add, or how they will be paid for, he said. The Olympic Committee is a nonprofit corporation supported by corporate sponsorships and donations.
“We're open to so many things, and I don't want to narrow our scope,” he said.
Built in 1995, the $65 million Chula Vista center was a gift from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation. It has an annual budget of about $7 million, and it serves about 200 athletes at any given time, including those staying off-site.
A long-standing goal is to increase capacity to 600 athletes, he said.
The Chula Vista location is special, Lamb said, because of the “gorgeous” warm, dry weather. “Every day's a perfect day for training.” There is plenty of space to work with – 155 acres – but there are some facilities lacking, such as a swimming pool. An aquatic facility in the original plans was never built because money ran out.
“We have such a beautiful footprint. It's a wonderful opportunity for athletes,” Lamb said. “So much more can be done.”
It overlooks the lower Otay Reservoir, with views of the Otay Mountains. Athletes train for sports, including track and field, archery, canoe/kayak, cycling, field hockey, rowing, soccer, softball and triathlon.
The facilities – such as the Tartan track made of joint-cushioning polyurethane – are state of the art.
Track athletes this year include San Diegan Monique Henderson, who won two gold medals in 2004. There's also Utah native Marlon Shirley, an amputee who is known as the fastest paralympian in the world.
Lamb said he believes the Olympic Games are “a great tool for peace and understanding,” and said, “We are helping show the world who Americans are through our athletes.”
He pledged to do “whatever it takes” to help athletes succeed in Chula Vista.
Lamb was active in the community of Lake Placid, where his family has lived for several generations. He served on the school board and on committees for historic preservation and regional development.
In Chula Vista, his first goal is to build partnerships and gather support, and he has begun introducing himself to community and business groups. He wants the center to host more events for the public.
“We've got to engage the city; we've got to engage the community,” he said. “I want to take my time and educate myself. I'm going to be doing a lot of listening.”