August 23, 2012
inspire with Olympic wins
For Mississippi’s Olympians, the London Games were more than a chance to shine on the world stage. Gold medals and new world records proved our star athletes were ready to change history.
‘We Can All Do This Together’
Gulfport native Brittney Reese became the first American woman to win a gold medal in long jump since Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won it more than two decades ago in the Seoul Games. The Olympic title tops an impressive career for the former Ole Miss standout and four-time world champion, who has become an unmatched competitor over the past several years.
Particularly heartfelt and inspiring was Reese’s dedication of her gold-medal success to the people of Mississippi and those still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, which damaged her family’s home seven years ago. As she told reporters, “This is a great way for me to bring something home and show them we can all do this together.”
Mississippians continued to make headlines in other track and field events. Ridgeland’s Bianca Knight helped the women’s 4x100-meter relay team win gold in an incredible 40.82 seconds – besting the world record set by East Germany in 1985. The performance earned the United States its first Olympic gold medal in the women’s relay event since 1996 in Atlanta.
In the men’s 4x100-meter relay, Coldwater sprinter Trell Kimmons and his teammates blazed through to a silver-medal finish – setting a new American record. Former Jackson State University track star Michael Tinsley also won silver in the 400-meter hurdles.
One Mississippian continued her Olympic success as a coach for the U.S. women’s basketball team. Assistant coach Jennifer Gillom, an Ole Miss graduate from Abbeville, helped lead the team to a gold-medal victory in London. She won gold as a player during the Seoul Games and is the first person in Ole Miss women’s basketball history to be part of multiple medal wins.
Mississippians Part of U.S. Paralympic Team
Looking ahead, four Mississippians will showcase the best of our state as members of Team USA in the London Paralympic Games, which begin on August 29. Ryan Estep and Joseph Brinson of Florence will compete in wheelchair fencing. Shaquille Vance of Houston and Richard Browne of Jackson will vie for gold in the track and field competition.
Like the Olympics, the Paralympic Games will captivate the world with uplifting stories of gifted athletes and their journeys to London. The international sports event for athletes with disabilities began shortly after World War II as a way for those with war injuries to enhance their quality of life. Today, more than 4,000 athletes will compete.
Twenty veterans and active-duty service members are on the 227-member U.S. team. The U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military and Veterans Program is a key partner in providing support and encouragement for injured servicemen and women to participate in sports programs in communities across the country.
As Mississippi’s Paralympic athletes have already demonstrated, hard work and dedication are part of the path to Olympic glory.
We wish them every success in London.
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