Living out an Olympic dream

Published 6:57 am Thursday, July 15, 2021

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We all remember those days of inspirational speakers coming to our school and telling us anything was possible. Heck, even our parents told us we could be president one day if we wanted to.

But, as we sit here now, most of us didn’t become president and many of us went down completely different paths than we originally thought.

On our staff alone, many of us had the dream of being school bus drivers, riding on the back of garbage trucks, being professional athletes or doing anything aside from writing stories for a living. But look at us now, living out a different dream.

Some, however, took those inspirational speeches to heart and set their mind to accomplish what many might deem impossible.

As we near the opening ceremony for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on Friday, July 23, we celebrate many of those from across the world who sat there as a child in school and said, “One day, that’s going to be me representing my country.”

And one local track and field coach will get that opportunity after pouring his life’s work into becoming one of the best.

His name is Curtis Thompson, and he will be representing the U.S. as a javelin thrower for the track and field team during this year’s summer Olympics.

Even more amazing, he was one of three athletes with Shelby County ties to have a shot at making the Olympics this year.

Former Spain Park track star Daniel Nixon competed in the Olympic trials and finished just four spots from qualifying for the track and field team in the 800-meter run.

With an outside chance heading into the trials after almost giving up the sport a few weeks earlier, Nixon made it through the first two rounds of the trials and ended up finishing seventh in the finals, just shy of a spot on the Olympic team.

Former Helena standout Justin Stuckey also had a chance after becoming one of the top 24 athletes in the high jump. While he didn’t measure a height in the Olympic trials, he was considered one of the best at his skill in the country and finished as an All-American.

But Thompson was the lone one to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

The current Spain Park track and field assistant coach finished second in the Olympic trials five years ago, just missing a spot in the Olympics, but he didn’t give up on his dream.

He persevered and found a way to work harder than he already was. Now, it has paid off.

As the 23rd ranked javelin thrower in the country, he won this year’s Olympic trial with three throws greater than 80 meters in the finals and is now making a lifelong dream of being an Olympian come to fruition.

It was truly amazing to see three athletes from the area get so close to the Olympics, while one punched the ticket of a lifetime.

Those successful moments can make some of us sit back and wonder, “Man, what have I done with my life?”

Maybe we all should have listened to those inspirational speeches in grade school a little closer.

That said, these moments just go to prove that success is completely dependent on the desire we have to put the necessary work in to become the best.