After Alex crossed the finish line for the Half Marathon, it was complete and wonderful chaos. The adoring public were snapping shots, news anchors and ESPN were weaving in and out collecting pictures, grabbing sound bites, and getting interview segments. My brother was a superstar – how does that happen!?
It took a good 45 min for the cameras to stop clicking and for us to pull Alex away for a family shot:
It was over 90 degrees during the event. PLEASE tell me why Alex’s hair still looks amazing after a half marathon? Strange things like this keep me up at night. (Not that he wasn’t a little smelly/sweaty) 🙂
There was some confusion at the awards staging area – apparently the Bolivian runner left the area and they needed him before starting the awards…
We were getting pretty antsy because Alex was due back at USC to run in the 4x400m relay in just a couple hours. No rest for the weary!! We tried to get him to stretch and relax a bit but I think that’s difficult when you just won an Olympic GOLD medal and your adoring public (and annoying sister) keeps coming up requesting photos.
He must have posed at least 200 times. Insanity.
As we watched the minutes tick by we got more and more anxious. The coaches kept discussing how long they could wait before they would have to leave – we couldn’t have Alex missing the relay. Finally everything was sorted out, Alex was awarded his medal, and we made a bee-line to his waiting transportation for final hugs.
The rest of us scurried back to the Metro and began the agonizingly long ride to USC. We knew it would be close but hoped the start would be delayed just a little bit – in true Special Olympics fashion.
Ben somehow had the energy to dash all the way across the campus while the rest of us trudged behind… and told us we had just missed the relay! Noooooo! We were tired, sweaty, and really disappointed. In retrospect, we should have called a taxi or used uber. Lesson learned, folks!
There was a scurry of texts and phone calls trying to learn how the team had done. Alex’s team had worked very hard practicing the relay – specifically the “mark” where you can cut into the inner lane after a certain amount of time. This was confusing for a lot of the athletes since each team had their own mark and Alex was the only person who could consistently cut in – and was put on the 2nd leg of the relay specifically for that purpose.
Finally, we got the official word. They came in second. Not bad!
We waited out in the sweltering heat yet again for the medal ceremony and clapped loudly when Alex’s relay started walking through. The team was in full, radiant smiles. Suddenly Matt leaned over to me and said “wait, they are the second team walking in – which puts them at the top spot on the podium – what!?”
Sure enough… in the preliminary round USA had beaten Latvia but in the final they lost by 2 seconds. However, the person on the Latvia team saw Alex make his cut and immediately cut in too which shortened their course considerably and they were disqualified. No one likes to win that way and Alex felt bad about winning even though they weren’t the fastest team. It took a bit of explaining that had the other team cut in correctly, there was no way they could make up the 2 seconds in time – it was super close.
So the relay team stood at the top, got their medals and shared hugs and gracious congrats with the other teams.
We couldn’t be more proud of Alex. Knowing all that he’s overcome and how he’s blossomed as an athlete and all-around really nice guy, it’s incredible. He’s so positive about everything and a great role model to others.
Two golds in one day – how can you top that?!
Since then he’s been on ESPN, featured in Runner’s World magazine, was interviewed live on the GB news, had a Green Bay article on TV, was in two regional TV stations, a Long Beach newspaper, had articles twice in the Green Bay newspaper, and has been asked to come in as a motivational speaker to two classrooms this Fall. He’s a busy, busy man.
One of the interviewers asked Alex how it felt to be a celebrity. Alex looked at the guy in confusion and said, “Well, I’m no Aaron Rodgers.” Ha! Alex, don’t ever lose your humility. I love that about you. 🙂