An opportunity of a lifetime: Young local track stars heading to junior Olympics

·1 min read

Nine year old Milan Fletcher has so many medals she couldn’t possible wear them all.

“No. I still have a lot more,” Milan said.

She’s a member of the Ben Hill Track Team of Southwest Atlanta, and the Tigers are tops.

“It’s just a blessing to be part of it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Head Coach Valentine Aka said.

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Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen spent time with the team as they prep for the national Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics.

“Man, it’s exciting. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the ‘big’ Olympics. But this is the Olympics for the kids,” coach Mario Fletcher said.

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Up to 20,000 athletes, hundreds from every state. There will be 21 Tigers. The youngest are 7 years old, and the oldest are 12.

“Oh! Pure joy, you see it on their faces. Their excitement when they cross the finish line. And you see it in the parents,” team mom Monisha Thomas said.

Many come from lower income families.

Life can be tough, but they’re tougher.

“We gotta work hard, and it’ll pay off,” 10-year-old Zakari Ceesay said. It already has. They’re among the very best in Georgia, and they’re aiming for the best in the country.

“We don’t like to lose. We like to win,” Milan Fletcher said.

The Junior Olympics start Monday in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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