LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As 244 United States athletes are across the globe for the 2018 Winter Olympics, the latest Olympic athlete from the South Plains to compete on the world stage is speaking to KCBD about what it's like to represent our country.
Idalou native Bradley Adkins grabbed a spot on the team as a high jumper to head to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 2016 while a Junior at Texas Tech University. After jumping 7' 6" that year, he finished in 3rd place at the Olympic Trials.
"It was something that was a dream," Adkins said. "It was finally coming to pass. Then, it became a reality. I was in such awe to actually see that. I just couldn't do anything but just be grateful."
His freshman year at TTU, Adkins said he was asked to write down his goals he wanted to accomplish before leaving college. One of his was making the Olympics. He said that dream coming true was a humbling experience.
"It was like, 'Man, I'm one of 3 people in the United States that gets to represent high jump.' There are just so many emotions going through that," Adkins said. "To finally see something that you worked so hard for just actually happen, it just shows you hard work and dreams come, they do pay off and they can become a reality."
Adkins tells KCBD there is a lengthy process from qualifying to actually getting to the Olympic venue. That includes paperwork, drug testing and briefings about the host country. But, there is also the fun of getting the U.S.A gear. That clothing sets the American team apart, especially at the Opening Ceremony.
"You walk in and all you hear is just U.S.A. chants," Adkins said. "There are people everywhere. The stands are packed. It was just incredible. There were people, they would come up and be like 'Can I take a picture with you?,' just because you were U.S.A. They didn't even know who I was but there was just such a presence of being Team U.S.A. It's just something I'll never forget."
Also hard to forget for Adkins was stepping out to compete in the red, white and blue uniform. He said, while there is a great expectation and pressure to win a medal, he knew he had done everything to prepare and was ready to just have fun.
"I was just ready," Adkins said. "I had worked so hard for that moment and to finally see it come to pass, to be in that moment, I didn't want to miss it. I didn't want to be so caught up in having to perform that I couldn't enjoy the moment, because I didn't jump like I wanted or just get so frustrated with the process. So, if you saw me jumping, I think most of the time I had a smile on my face."
Bradley finished 21st on the Olympic stage but jumped a personal best in an outdoor setting. He continues jumping professionally at Texas Tech and is a volunteer coach.
"Always remember where you came from and how you got there," Adkins said. "It was the support of the small-town community, my faith in God that got me where I am and I always want to stay true to who I am."
Growing up in a farming family in Lorenzo and Idalou is what Bradley says taught him how to work hard and keep the faith. He hopes future generations of athletes gain those same qualities and dream big so that they may be part of the rare Olympic spirit.
"You represent the best country in the world that stands for so much," Adkins said. "To be able to see everyone unified and come together and cheer on something like track & field or swimming or the Winter Olympics, it's incredible to see. I feel like it's a time where there's a kind of coming together that, hopefully, we can see more of in the future."
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