U.S. Olympic athlete stops by the Y

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Summer campers and counselors at the Coosa Valley YMCA gather for a photo with U.S. Olympic athlete Curtis Thompson (fourth from left on back row in blue shirt) last Tuesday (June 28) in Gadsden. Chris McCarthy/Messenger.

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Coosa Valley YMCA summer campers received quite a treat on Tuesday, June 28.

U.S. Olympic track and field team member Curtis Thompson, the top javelin thrower in the nation, spoke with local youths about the commitment and hard work required to reach the top of one’s profession.

“It’s an honor to compete for my country, and I’m excited to see what I can do on the world stage,” said Thompson, a New Jersey native who made American and All-SEC while attending Mississippi State. “It just goes to show that anything is possible if you set goals and work hard to achieve them, whether it’s athletics or school or anything else. If you believe in yourself and trust in God and surround yourself with good people, you’ll go far.”

Just one day prior to his visit to the YMCA, Thompson won the javelin championship at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. His top throw of 271 feet, seven inches earned him a berth on the U.S. national team that will compete in the Summer Olympic Games later this month in Tokyo, Japan.

“Throwing the javelin is almost like throwing a football,” he said. “It takes a combination of technique, speed and strength, not to mention mental aspect of it.”

Thompson’s visit came about through longtime local educator and coach Jim Bogle, who also runs the Y’s summer youth camp. Bogle’s son Kodie, who won the Class 2A second-place silver medal in the javelin as a freshman at Gaston this past season, has weekly training sessions with Thompson in Hoover.

“I actually met Kodie several years ago when I was still at Mississippi State,” said Thompson. “We took a picture and he was about this high,” holding his arm to his hip. “Now’s he over 6 feet [tall] and he’s looking me in the eye!”

Jim Bogle pointed out to the campers that Thompson’s focus strictly on the javelin did not come until late in his high school career.

“Curtis was a multi-sport athlete who played football, basketball and baseball. I’m a big proponent of playing a number of sports and not limiting yourself just to one thing.”

Thompson, who also won the NCAA javelin title for MSU in 2016 and the 2018 USATF Championship in 2018, has competed in meets in places such as El Salvador, London, Canada, Germany and Belarus. He will leave for Tokyo on July 29.

“It will be exciting being in a different country in a different time zone and getting to meet so many international athletes,” he said. “The great thing about the Olympics is that there are so many sports you can compete in, so you can find out what you like and what is your passion. They sky’s the limit for anybody here today.”

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