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The new Lara Croft: More agile than ever

British gymnast Alison Carroll to be real-life incarnation of the famed heroine at promotions for the game's latest installment. Role prep includes weapons training, archaeology.

Gamers can dream that Angelina Jolie will one day take her cinematic Lara Croft into the video game world. But for now, they'll have to make do with the lovely Alison Carroll, a competitive U.K. gymnast who looks downright sporting in her multiple-holstered, black-booted garb.

Carroll, 23, will be the real-life incarnation of the famed game heroine at promotions for the series' latest installment, Tomb Raider: Underworld.

Alison Carroll
Gymnast Alison Carroll will kick it up as the new Lara Croft. Eidos Inc.

Game creator Eidos Interactive says Carroll embodies the essence of Croft--"brawn, brains, and beauty" (and er, bustiness, perhaps?). The company says Tomb Raider: Underworld has upped the ante on Croft's athleticism, and the character will tackle her trademark high adventures with movements and skills reminiscent of a highly skilled gymnast.

The agile Carroll, from Croydon, England, beat out hundreds of superheroine hopefuls to become the new Croft. In preparation for her role, the athlete is embarking on a rigorous regime that includes survival, combat, and semiautomatic-weapons training, as well as a course in world archaeology (Croft's day job). Sheesh, and we thought training for the uneven bars was tough.

Carroll's also enjoying early access to the upcoming title to study Croft's movements, techniques, and personality. The athlete appears more than happy to ditch her job as a golf club receptionist to venture through ancient tombs and ruins--or at least travel the world meeting breathless Tomb Raider fans and acting out stunts from the game.

"This is a fantastic opportunity, and I look forward to embracing Lara's world," Carroll said. "It's unbelievable how realistic her movements are in Tomb Raider: Underworld, and it's so gratifying to be able to use my years of gymnastic training to portray such a beloved character."

Carroll follows in the footsteps of past Croft models, including Nell McAndrew and Rhona Mitra--and of course, Jolie, who starred in the films Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

Tomb Raider: Underworld ships in November for PCs, the Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, and Nintendo's Wii and DS. It is co-published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.