The Olympics are a time for athletes, teams and the world to come together in a way that is unique to the event. Participants and spectators eagerly await the Games every four years.
I have watched the Olympics with my family for as long as I can remember, and I always recall the experience with an extreme sense of unity within my family and other families throughout the United States. I love this shared feeling of patriotism the Olympics bring, because it renews not just my pride, but a collective pride of a nation in the powerful country we Americans call home. On June 24, my connection to Team USA was heightened as I was able to watch my cousin, Lauren Martinez, compete in the United States track and field Olympic Trials for pole vault, as she lived out her Olympic dream of trying out for one of the most prestigious teams in the world.
Lauren is a graduate of Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. She knows the passion the Land of Enchantment has for sports. From competing at the state championships at the University of New Mexico, to receiving full-ride scholarships to the University of California, Berkeley for her undergrad and the University of Arkansas for graduate school, she has carried her hometown ties with her throughout her track and field career.
Before I could experience this one-of-a-kind culture the 505 has for sports, I saw how Lauren handled it with style. In seeing her astonishing success of multiple solo and team state championships, I, too, wanted to one day make my home city of Santa Fe proud, like she has made Albuquerque. Now, as a high school junior, I have competed for many medals at the track and field state championships, with a deep respect for the sport, New Mexico’s supporting culture and the select few who get to represent the United States on the most spectacular stage.
I’m forever grateful that I was able to have such an incredible mentor as I grew up, as I got to encounter the hard work and dedication it takes to be a collegiate athlete firsthand. As all collegiate athletes have to begin their athletic journey somewhere, it is the grit a person has that makes them shine. Even as the state championship stage is small compared to the Olympic Trials stage my cousin has competed on, I know my family and home state are cheering me on at the beginning of my journey with the same sense of pride as they cheer on Lauren’s Olympic Trial qualifier finale and Team USA. As I wave at them on the starting line of the 100-meter dash, I can hear my grandfather telling me to “run like the wind,” with the same excitement he tells my cousin, Lauren, to “fly high.”