Editorial: Take pride in cheering on Olympians from the suburbs

  • Associated Press file photosThomas Jaeschke, clockwise from left, Olivia Smoliga, David Kendziera and Laura Zeng are among suburban athletes competing at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

    Associated Press file photosThomas Jaeschke, clockwise from left, Olivia Smoliga, David Kendziera and Laura Zeng are among suburban athletes competing at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted7/21/2021 1:00 AM

There's something deeply stirring about the parade of nations at the start of each Olympic Games. You can't help but be swept up in the pageantry of the Opening Ceremonies, the lighting of the Olympic flame, the excitement of the athletes and the pride of flag bearers carrying the hopes of their nations into arenas far from home.

For some suburbanites, that pride is personal: From thousands of miles away Friday, families, friends and fans will cheer on committed local athletes who grew up, trained and nurtured their dreams in the suburbs.

 

Sadly, because of the pandemic, families won't be in the stands at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer to see years of hard work and sacrifice pay off. But they will watch breathlessly from home as suburban athletes take to the tracks, mats, fields and waters of the XXXII Olympiad.

Among them:

• Kevin McDowell of Geneva, men's triathlon

• Olivia Smoliga of Glenview, women's swimming

• Alie Rusher of Glenview, women's rowing

• Maggie Shea of Wilmette, women's sailing

• David Kendziera of Mount Prospect, men's 400 hurdles

• Tori Franklin of Westmont, women's triple jump

• Thomas Jaeschke of Wheaton, men's volleyball

• Jeff Jendryk of Wheaton, men's volleyball alternate

• Kelsey Robinson of Bartlett, women's volleyball

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• Lauren Carlini of Aurora, women's volleyball alternate

• Felicia Stancil of Lake Villa, women's BMX racing

• Nefeli Papadakis of Gurnee, women's judo

• Casey Krueger of Naperville, women's soccer

• Sandi Morris of Downers Grove, women's pole vault

• Alex Diab of Glen Ellyn, a men's gymnastics alternate

• Andrea Filler of Buffalo Grove, women's softball for Italy

• And a large number of local women competing in rhythmic gymnastics, including: Laura Zeng of Libertyville, Nicole Sladkov of Vernon Hills, Elizaveta Pletneva of Wheeling, Kiana Eide and Lili Mizuno of Northbrook, Camilla Feeley of Deerfield and Evita Griskenas of Orland Park.

That's an impressive roster -- and a source of pride for all of us.

Some of these Olympians competed at local high schools, others in suburban clubs. Their journeys took incredible dedication and sacrifice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Today, we recognize their talents and determination. We hope to see them on the podium, of course, but believe that medals are only one measure of an athlete's success.

Stay well, Olympians. Stay focused.

And savor every moment.

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