By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO Although he had some travel difficulties on his recent trip to Chicago, Shane Jackson returned home to Monticello with some priceless memories and a gold medal.
The 13-year-old Jackson won gold in the 12-13 age group of the boys’ track & field event at the national finals of the 2008 United States Olympic Committee’s Junior Olympic Skills competition. He ran the 50-meter dash in 5.85 seconds and had a mark of 8 feet, 10 inches in the standing long jump.
Kyle Isom of Vacaville, Calif. finished just behind Jackson to win the silver medal, while Geriand Cook of Minneapolis, Minn. took home the bronze medal.
U.S. Olympic wrestler Patricia Miranda of Colorado Springs, Colo., a bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece presented the medals to the athletes as they stood on a podium inside the University of Illinois-Chicago arena. Jackson’s trip to Chicago got off to a rough start. The plane which he and his parents, Steve and Renee, took from New York City to Chicago was delayed a few hours and did not arrive in the Windy City until 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 24. As a result, they missed the Junior Olympics Skills Competition’s Opening Ceremonies, which were held four hours earlier at 6 p.m.
“We were so disappointed for Shane,” Renee Jackson said. “Our hearts went out to him for missing the ceremony.”
But Shane was quick to transform a negative into a positive.
“Shane is a the type of kid who always wants to excel,” Steve Jackson said. “And when there is an obstacle put in his way, like the delayed flight, that just makes him try harder.”
So less than 24 hours after the travel snafu, Shane Jackson went out and won a gold medal.
“I just stayed focused,” Shane said. “I had a goal in mind to win the gold medal and the delayed flight made me more determined to achieve that goal.”
Shane noted that he “worked very hard” to win gold. His training routine included riding a stationary bike for 20 minutes a day three or four times a week.
Naturally, Steve and Renee Jackson are extremely happy for their oldest son. (Steve and Renee are also the proud parents of 10-year-old Shaun and 5-month-old Seth.)
“We are very, very proud of him,” Steve Jackson said.
While he is still “very disappointed” about missing the Opening Ceremony, Shane Jackson noted that the trip to Chicago was very positive overall. He said that he and his parents enjoyed their visits to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Wrigley Field and Dave and Buster’s, a restaurant which features games for kids.
“It was just a great experience,” he said. “Chicago is a really nice city. I would like to go back and visit someday.
Shane was among 72 athletes between the ages of 8 and 13 from 32 states who qualified for the national event after winning local and regional competitions. They battled for medals in basketball, soccer, tennis and track & field skills competitions. In each of the three age groups, a male and female national champion was awarded before a crowd of more than 150 spectators at the University of Illinois-Chicago campus.
Jackson qualified for the national event by winning a regional competition in Monticello on May 17. On that day, he ran the 50-meter dash in 6.25 seconds and achieved a distance of 8 feet, 10 inches in the standing long jump. More than 1.7 million boys and girls participated in the local Junior Olympics Skills competitions held across the nation back in April.