By Roger O’Neil Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/23/2004 7:38:25 PM ET 2004-04-23T23:38:25

When they look down the road, the sky’s the limit. Teenagers are challenging the best in sports — and beating them.

James Stewart is only 18 but already at the top in motocross:

“I don’t think of myself as a millionaire,” James says.

Then there’s a 14-year-old who this month became the highest-paid player in Major League Soccer — Freddy Adu. “I’m just a kid having fun,” Adu says.

And who hasn’t heard of Michelle Wie. At age 14, she wants to play in the Masters golf tournament.

“I think that anyone I can play against, I can beat,” she confidently says.

And just last week, 17-year-old Brian Harman faced the pros in his first PGA golf tournament. Brian and the others have dazzling skill, the best equipment and great training.

All of these young phenoms have one thing in common. They started practicing early. Brian was in sports at age 2 and decided on golf by the time he was 9.

And there’s something else. All agree their youth is a secret weapon.

“My parents couldn’t really be any better," says Brian. "They’re never putting any pressure on me because they know I put enough pressure on myself for everything.”

But, with the notoriety there can be a downside — which James Stewart is beginning to recognize:

“I sacrificed everything to be the rider that I am," he says. "I never had a chance to go to the prom.”

Sports sociologist Jay Coakley writes that what begins as fun often ends as a burden. 

“They’ve been in a world that focuses on ‘Me, me, me,’” he says. "And now they have to focus on a world where they have to connect with others.... They aren’t ready for it.”

But Brian Harman’s mom, Nancy, disagrees: “He loves school.… He has lots of different friends that he enjoys hanging around with.”

So, off the golf course he’s a kid ,then?  “Oh, he is absolutely a kid,” Nancy Harman added.

And all these super-teens recognize when they stop being “that kid” they can still have sky-high goals.

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