Fort Mill Times

Olympic quest rivets town

VAN WYCK -- When he was just a young man living in Van Wyck, Olympic medalist Shawn Crawford would dream about the things he'd do when he grew up.

An inventor, he said, or maybe he'd compete in the Olympics someday.

Most were pipe dreams, said his mother, Sylvia Crawford. But in 2004 and again on Sunday evening in Beijing, his Olympic dreams came true for the second time.

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Crawford competed in the semifinals of the Men's 200-meter on Tuesday and finished second in his heat, advancing him to the finals on Wednesday at 10:20 a.m. Crawford finished finished first in his heat in round oneand finished second in his his heat in round two, behind Usian Bolt of Jamaica.

In 2004, Crawford, now 30, brought home a gold medal in the 200-meter and silver for the 4x1 relay.

Crawford's mother, Sylvia Crawford, and family friend Marilyn Tims left last Friday for Bejing.

The trip was the first flight for Tims and the second for Sylvia Crawford, who flew to Greece in 2004. With them were another friend, Gayle Carter and one of Crawford's former coaches at Indian Land High School, Michael Gordon.

Before leaving town, the group was learning basic phrases in Chinese. Sylvia Crawford hadn't yet mastered saying, "My son is a gold medalist."

"We're working on that," Sylvia Crawford joked before she left for China.

Another of Crawford's former Indian Land coaches, Mike Pope, vividly remembers the first time he saw a sixth-grade Shawn Crawford run.

"I used to say that Gary, Mike and I coached the other 99 kids. God coaches Shawn Crawford. He had God-given talent. He's got a gift," Pope said.

On Sunday evening, Van Wyck was abuzz as the town prepared to watch Crawford compete.

At the Van Wyck Community Center, drivers honked their car horns and waved to a crowd assembled by the sign proclaiming "Van Wyck: Home of Shawn Crawford, Beijing 2008."

A resident stopped at the community center to ask if anyone had an extra antenna for a TV, because the Van Wyck/Charlotte Road Fire Department was having trouble with reception and wanted to make sure they could watch Crawford compete.

The group discussed plans for an October celebration honoring Crawford, hoping he will be able to return then to his hometown. The celebration will go on regardless of how Crawford finishes, they said.

"But he'll win," said Pat Oglesby.

"We are proud whatever he wins," Claudia Thompson said. "First, second or third place. We're just proud."

• The State contributed to this story.

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