GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The 2022 Beijing Olympics will showcase talents like figure skating and snowboarding.
Those winter sports are not something we see too much of in Eastern Carolina, but we do have experienced trainers that know what it takes to see those Olympic rings in person.
For most athletes, a journey to the Olympics starts with a dream.
Many kids say, “Oh, I would love to go to the Olympics one day,” Greenville native Lauren Perdue Britt said.
But that dream turned into reality for Britt when she competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games and earned a gold medal for Team USA in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
“Every hour of every practice matters,” Britt said. “It’s like your building block to whatever the end goal is, and for me, that was the Olympics.”
For the incoming class of hopeful athletes, there is a new hurdle to jump.
“‘What am I doing this for?’ That’s one of the things in their minds,” Curt Kraft, East Carolina University Track and Field head coach said.
“It puts a wrench in things mentally and physically because you are excited to do something and then all of a sudden something happens and the rug is pulled out from underneath you," said Curt Kraft, ECU Track and Field head coach.
Kraft coached recent Olympian Tynita Butts, who competed in the Tokyo Games.
The COVID-19 pandemic made collegiate and Olympic training even more difficult, but perseverance is always in an athlete’s gym bag.
“It’s the athlete’s responsibility to put in the work every day, to hold yourself accountable,” Britt said. “You have to find it within yourself to put in that work every single day.”
When training with a college team, there are competitive contemporaries to push you, but after graduation, an athlete has to take matters into their own hands.
“It’s hard for some of those people to stay motivated and to continue to do it when you don’t have a bunch of people around you,” Kraft said. “There’s a lot of self-motivation and a lot of drive. It makes it tougher.”
For the student-athletes running ECU’s tracks, a green light on their outdoor season is on the horizon.
For those wanting to make it to the Olympics, “they’re training the same way that they would have trained as a collegiate athlete,” Kraft said.
Training, that is, with discipline, motivated by their Olympic dreams.
The pandemic has certainly left its mark on the Beijing Games.
Earlier this year, a surge in omicron variant infections caused the games’ organization committee to pull the sales of public tickets.
You can watch all of the action of the 2022 Beijing Olympics on WITN News.
Coverage starts Thursday evening and the opening ceremony will be broadcasted live Friday morning.