The Olympic Games Have Never Felt So Close To Home

The last couple weeks have been packed with talk of the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. I have had many conversations with co-workers about the Olympics, it’s very bittersweet watching them wrap up until London in 2012. So much history has been made with Michael Phelps completing his perfect 8 gold medal quest. But even more than that, our own Iowa girl, Shawn Johnson, takes gold on the balance beam, and brings home 3 silver medals as well. The West Des Moines native, who just happens to only be 16 years old, started gymnastics when she was 3 because ‘she had too much energy’. None of us could see that in the constantly smiling, high-flying daredevil that she is. Even with all of her success (the medals, TV appearances, and photo shoots) the Valley High School sophomore still leads a normal teenage life. She has become such an inspiration to kids and adults everywhere, but especially to her friends and family back home. 

Iowa was one hurdle away from having a 2nd gold medal. LoLo Jones, also from Des Moines, was leading the 100 meter hurdles by a full stride when she hit the 9th hurdle and stumbled into her 7th place finish. At 26 years old making her first Olympic appearance, I hope she gets the opportunity to run in 2012. Her potential hasn’t peaked yet, and she has the perseverance to make it a second time and come away with her gold. 

Every April, I go to the Drake Relays with my husband’s family. The whole weekend, the fans wait in anticipation for LoLo to enter the arena. The atmosphere completely changes when she appears. She is one of those athletes that truly appreciates the fans and tries to give them what they came to see…a LoLo win. She won the 100 hurdles in both the 2007 and 2008 Relays, and it was amazing to watch! She is one of the most gracious sports stars, win or lose.

Our Iowans have more than exceeded expectations, making everyone in the U.S. and Iowa proud. Hopefully we’ll see them in London as well! Way to prove that the Hawkeye state can do more than produce potatoes…I mean corn! Everyone else confuses Iowa with Idaho…I might as well too.

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