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Two Area Athletes Bound For The Olympics

Two athletes with ties to Kansas and Missouri will have a chance to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials took place on Sunday and athletes Christian Cantwell and Diamond Dixon both made the cut.

Christian Cantwell, 31. A 1989 graduate of Eldon High School in Eldon, Missouri and the University of Missouri in 2003, Cantwell currently lives in Columbia, Mo. At the trials, Cantwell placed third in men's shot put with a throw of 69 feet, 9 3/4 inches.

In a profile article in the Lake Sun Leader before the 2008 Bejing Olympics (where Cantwell won a silver medal) Beverly Taggart wrote that Cantwell has been "at center stage from a very early age." To date, he's won three world indoor championship shot put titles, four U.S. indoor championships, and an Olympic medal - among many other competitions.

Diamond Dixon, 19. A sophomore at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Dixon's hometown is Houston, Texas. On Sunday, Dixon placed fifth in the women's 400-meter final with a time of 50.88 seconds and won a spot on the six-member 4 x 400-meter relay team at the London Olympics. As the Lawrence-Journal World reports, Dixon said this about the race:

“I’m very honored to have made the Olympic team,” Dixon said. “It was a tough race but I just tried to get out to a good start, maintain and not panic. I knew it would come down to the last 100 meters so I dug in and just tried to get the best finish I could. I’ve accomplished my dream and I’m just so grateful.”

According to an article in the Kansan.com:

Dixon had some difficult stretches early in her life. Dixon’s mother was about 16 years old when she was born, too young to raise a child, so she lived with her aunt. After Dixon’s mother left home, she did not see her again for 9 years. Dixon’s aunt stepped up and raised her as her own daughter. Diamond began running track when she was nine years old to motivate herself to improve her grades. Dixon said she has dreamed about making the Olympics from the time she found out she was good at running track.

The 2012 Olympic Games take place July 27 - August 12. Check here for a complete schedule.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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