Six From Suddenlink Areas Earn Olympic Medals

Throughout the Olympics, we have been following athletes with ties to Suddenlink-served communities. Congratulations to six of them on medal-winning performances:

David Boudia, born in Abilene, Texas, who earned a gold medal in men’s 10-meter platform diving and a bronze in synchronized 10-meter platform diving;

Breeja Larson, Texas A&M (Bryan, Texas) swimmer, for earning gold as part of the 4×100-meter medley relay team;

Paige McPherson, also born in Abilene, who takes home a bronze medal for women’s welterweight taekwondo;

Aries Merritt, who lives in Bryan, Texas, for taking gold in the men’s 110-meter hurdles;

Coleman Scott, who lives in Stillwater, Okla., for taking the men’s freestyle 60kg wrestling bronze medal.

Deron Williams, born in Parkersburg, W. Va., who helped the men’s basketball team earn gold medal-status.

Congratulations to the other Olympians we followed for proudly representing the U.S. in London: Cammile Adams, Jake Cornelius, Kendrick Farris, Marquise Goodwin, Amy Hastings, Chelsea Hayes, Meb Keflezighi, Micah Lawrence, Wallace Spearmon and Jason Young.

Lubbock Olympian Set to Go for Discus Gold

Track and Field competition begins tomorrow at the Olympic Games in London.  Lubbock, Texas’ Jason Young, former Texas Tech University star, launches his quest for Olympic gold for Team USA when discus qualifying rounds begin Monday.

The 31-year-old says he’s been throwing a discus about half of his life.  Before he left for the Olympics he said he is optimistic about his chances for a medal, “I was ranked number one in the U.S. through 2011 and maybe I’ll be ranked there this year, too.  What’s most important is what you can perform on that day.  Right now there’s probably about 35 or 40 guys who think they have a shot at being in the finals, and there’s probably about 20 that actually think they can get a medal, including me.  … The thing that’s important is what you do when you get there.  Right now I’m showing up at the Olympic Games just like everyone else trying to get one of those medals.”

As you watch the competition, see if Jason meets his own goals.  He says if he throws 213 to 215 feet, he’ll be in the running for a medal.   Finalists compete for the hardware Tuesday.

Learn more about Jason Young and his Olympic hopes and thoughts in an interview before leaving Lubbock and a subsequent interview after arriving in London.  Both are on the Texas Tech Red Raider Track and Field website.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on other current and former Red Raider and Lady Raider athletes performing for other countries in the Olympics at 2012 Texas Tech Olympics Central.  They include:  Shane Brathwaite, 110-meter hurdles (for Barbados); Sally Kipyego, 5,000 and 10,000 meters (Kenya); Shereefa Lloyd, 4×400 relay (Jamaica); Jamele Mason, 400-meter hurdles (Puerto Rico); Michael Mathieu, 200 meters, 400 meters, 4×400 relay (Bahamas); and Andrae Williams, 4×400 relay (Bahamas).

Texas Tech Coach Guides Seven Olympians

Now in his 28th season of coaching track and field, Texas Tech University (TTU) Coach Wes Kittley has trained nearly two dozen Olympic athletes, 12 while he was at Abilene Christian University (in Suddenlink-served Abilene, Texas) and 11 at TTU, located in Suddenlink-served Lubbock, Texas. Though he won’t be able to attend the London Games, he will be communicating with and long-distance coaching seven athletes who competed for TTU’s Red Raiders — discus thrower Jason Young (competing for Team USA), hurdler Shane Brathwaite (Barbados), long- and middle-distance runner Sally Kipyego (Kenya), sprinter Shereefa Lloyd (Jamaica), hurdler Jamele Mason (Puerto Rico), and sprinters Michael Mathieu and Andrae Williams (Bahamas).

The TTU contingent is scheduled to compete Aug. 3 through Aug. 11.

On paper, Kipyego, Mathieu and Williams have the best chances to medal. Discus thrower Young could too “if he has his best day,” said Kittley.

His advice to his athletes is simple: “Don’t get caught up in the aura and excitement of the Olympics,” he said. “Enjoy it, but stay focused on what you’ve got to do to get the job done.”

When his athletes aren’t training and competing, Kittley strongly encourages them to embrace the experience by enjoying the competition that only the Olympic Games can provide. “I love the whole atmosphere,” he said. “It’s really special when you can see all the world’s best athletes compete in their sports.”

Kittley is certain one of the highlights will be the Opening Ceremony. He experienced it firsthand at the 2004 Games in Athens. “It was phenomenal,” he said. “The fireworks and pageantry make for an atmosphere second to none. There’s tremendous camaraderie among everyone who has gathered for peaceful competition, and it’s always a thrill to see which athlete brings in the torch to light the Olympic flame.”

The only time he’d recommend an athlete skip the Opening Ceremony is if they are competing the next day. The ceremony requires participants to be on their feet for up to five hours.

On the home front, Texas Tech’s track and field program continued its tradition of combining outstanding performance on the track with achievement in the classroom. This season 22 Red Raiders won All-America honors and seven earned All-Academic honors.