C-U residents will follow local athletes Tyler McGill and Gia Lewis-Smallwood with pride as they compete in the 2012 Summer Games in London.
With today's opening ceremonies, the XXX Summer Olympic Games officially start in London, and local fans will follow a couple of athletes with interest.
Champaign Central and Auburn University graduate Tyler McGill, who will swim in the 100-meter butterfly, and Centennial and University of Illinois graduate Gia Lewis-Smallwood, who will throw the discus, will see their athletic dreams come true as they compete with the world's top athletes.
Their Olympic appearances are the results of years of training. These athletes are supremely talented, among the elite in their sports, but few of us could understand the dedication, hard work and sacrifice that it takes to reach the goal of becoming an Olympian. Lewis-Smallwood tried and failed at making the Olympic team three times before finally making it this year.
The important dates to remember are Aug. 2 for heats and semifinals for McGill and Aug. 3 for finals. Lewis-Smallwood will compete in the qualifying event Aug. 3 with the finals Aug. 4.
There are a number of athletes with Illini connections competing in the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games, which begin Aug. 29.
So we wish McGill and Lewis-Smallwood the best of luck, as well as the rest of the athletes with Illini connections. No matter where they place in their events, they have earned lifelong distinctions as Olympians.