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Hutchison: Texas goes for the Gold

Texas goes for the Gold
by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison

It didn’t take long for Texans to share in a breathtaking Olympic moment as the 2012 summer games got underway in London. On the first weekend of competition, Dana Vollmer of Granbury set a new world-record in the 100-meter butterfly, becoming the first woman to break the 56-second barrier.

We marvel at the athletic ability of Olympic competitors, but we also take inspiration from their personal stories. Dana was diagnosed with a heart condition when she was training for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  She persevered and won a gold medal at 16.  But she almost gave up on competitive swimming when she failed to make the team in 2008.  She could have let that setback end her career; instead, she redoubled her efforts and went on to make Olympic history. 
That perseverance is part of the indefatigable American spirit that says: never give up.  And it is a reflection of the simple equation that hard work plus skill and determination equals success.  Our men and women representing America at the Olympic Games offer inspiration and example, showing all of us that we can realize our dreams.

Many of our athletes have been helped along the way by the support of families, coaches, teammates and communities.  Marquise Goodwin, of the University of Texas, is a track phenom.  At his first track meet, when he was only nine years old, he jumped nearly 14 feet – and won three events that day for his team, appropriately named the Lubbock Olympians. Thirteen years later, in the Olympic trials, he jumped 27 feet, 4 and one-quarter inches.

Marquise’s mother Tamina was unable to afford the flight from Lubbock to London, so the community came together to make sure she would get there.  Not only did they get Tamina to London, they got her mother there as well.  I have no doubt that all of Lubbock will be watching Marquise compete – and be keeping an eye out for his mother and grandmother in the stands as well.  The people of Lubbock are perfect examples of why my pride in Texas’s athletes is matched by my pride in Texas’s community spirit.

The Olympics are a time when the world comes together in the spirit of friendly competition, and give everyone a chance to indulge in some good, old-fashioned national pride.  The spirit of international cooperation is wonderful, and I, like everyone, am cheering for our men and women to take home the gold. But I take special pride in the more than forty Texas athletes representing our country in over a dozen sports.  I’ll be rooting for them over the coming days.  I know I won’t be alone.

Hutchison, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.