For one area junior athlete, the upcoming Olympic Games are a priority on the television agenda, and there's a good reason for that.
"I'm going to watch it," 12-year-old Amari Young said. "I'll try to watch it all, but long jump is a kicker."
Young will be paying special attention to the long jump because, by that time, she will have competed in the Hershey's Track and Field Games North American Final in the standing long jump. The meet is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Hershey, Pa., with the Olympic women's long jump scheduled for Aug. 7 and 8.
The North Augusta Middle School seventh-grader qualified for the national meet by winning the regional event in Charleston on June 9 with a jump of 7 feet, 10½ inches. That meet included athletes from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Florida.
She also finished 25th in the running long jump last year in the AAU Junior Olympics in New Orleans.
Her mother, Leavelle McCampbell principal Lloydette Young, said that they started Amari in track and field as conditioning for what has been her main sport, soccer.
"I always thought her real strong sport was soccer," Lloydette said, "but I knew that she did have some skills in track and field."
The benefits of the trip to Pennsylvania are numerous, according to Lloydette.
"All of (Amari's) expenses are paid for," she said. "She's actually going to get to meet Carl Lewis, which is really exciting for her."
Amari lists Lewis as one of her favorite athletes, along with former Olympian Florence Griffith-Joyner and soccer star Lionel Messi.
Lloydette said that keeping a "balance" for her young athlete was important and that Amari is a straight-A student. She also pointed out that she and her husband Al, who is the son of the North Augusta High School basketball coach of the same name, try to help Amari avoid arrogance.
"If you met Amari, something that her soccer coaches have said is she's so humble," Lloydette said. "We just try to keep her humble with whatever skills she has."
One thing Amari isn't short on is athletic advice. In addition to her grandfather, her uncle Andrew coaches football at Glenn Hills High School in Augusta, and her father's other brothers have athletic backgrounds, as well, at the high school and college level. Amari's father played football and won a state track title at Silver Bluff before signing at Buffalo University. Lloydette played basketball in high school, something Amari said she'd like to do, in addition to playing high school soccer.
"My uncle (Andrew), he works out with me, and my dad works out with me, and my grandpa works out with me, and my brother tries to help me, too," she said. Her brother, Dexter, is a 17-year-old basketball player for the Jackets.
Of all the talent Amari has shown and all those connections in the world of sport, Lloydette said she, her husband and Amari might draw the most attention from the elder Al Young, who helps coach the NAHS track team.
"We'll get a little bit of pressure from him maybe," Lloydette said.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.
Read more: Area middle-schooler headed to national track event | Aiken Standard
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