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Raytown Native, And His Family, Head To London Olympics

"Awesome Joolie"

Many athletes dream of going to the Olympics, but few ever succeed in representing their country on sport’s most prestigious stage. 

On July 1st, Raytown native Maurice Mitchell realized his dream after finishing second in the men’s 200m during the Olympic Trials in Oregon. Now Maurice Mitchell has some packing to do.

The local track star is traveling to London, where the opening ceremonies of the Olympics will take place on July 27th. For Maurice Mitchell, this has been the culmination of hard work and community support.

“I mean obviously God gave me a gift to run, and I’m really determined and hungry to be on top, and I think that plays a huge role,” Mitchell said. 

In high school at Raytown South, Mitchell was an eight-time state champion in the 100m, 200m and 400m races. He was considered the number one recruit in the Kansas City area during his junior and senior seasons.

“He saw all the attention he was getting from staff members and kids at the school,” says Maurice’s father, Michael Mitchell. “I think he started developing a mentality of, ‘I’m going to see if can get better and do something with this God-given talent.’”

He left the Midwest for the coast, attending Florida State University. There he continued his success, becoming the first athlete to win the ACC Indoor Track Performer of the Year for three consecutive years.

Maurice Mitchell’s parents were regular spectators at the 22-year-old’s races. So when he qualified for the 2012 Olympics, it seemed only natural that his parents would go. The trip to London, however, was too costly, and it seemed Maurice Mitchell’s parents would have to watch him on television instead of from the stands.

That’s when the Raytown community decided to step up and help. Representatives from Raytown South High School teamed up with the Raytown Lee's Summit Credit Union to raise $5,000 for the Mitchell family.

“The community has been phenomenal,” Michael Mitchell says. “I am just overwhelmed with gratitude.”

With support from the community it seems that the Mitchell family will get to see Maurice compete in person. It’s just the latest good news in a string of developments. Maurice was married last December to fellow Florida State track athlete Tiara Swanagan. She became pregnant in March, and the two are expecting a baby boy in December.

For Maurice, the year couldn’t get any better. Unless, of course, he finishes the Olympics with a medal around his neck.  

*Other local competitors at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games:

  • Matt Tegenkamp grew up in Lee's Summit, Mo. and now lives in Oregon.  He runs the 10,000 meters.
  • Amy Hastings is a graduate from Leavenworth High School and lives in California. She also runs the 10K.
  • Erik Kynard is originally from Ohio and is a high jumper at K-State.
  • Diamond Dixon is originally from Houston, Tex. and is a sprinter attending KU. Dixon is on the USA relay team.
  • Christian Cantwell lives in Columbia, Mo. and is originally from Eldon, Mo.  He is a former shot putter for MU.

Below, more Olympics coverage from KCUR & NPR.

This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.

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