Day 215: Gold Dig

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August 2, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

I can only infer from the faces that people are making that the Olympics are happening again.  Hooray!  Once ever four years or so, I crawl out of my cave and pay a little bit of attention to sports.  Alright, honestly, I care less about the events themselves than the athletes.  The Olympics, more so than any other international event, brings focus to the absolutely astounding physical and mental capacity of the human being.  These competitions demand peak performance of body, mind and spirit – focus, strength, endurance and willpower all course through the veins of some of the world’s most extraordinary people as they take one another on for gold and glory.  Some of these people really are amazing, and today’s project is about one particularly awe-inspiring young Olympian from Flint.  Her name is T-Rex (actually, it’s Claressa), she’s 17, and she’s not to be trifled with.

T-Rex isn’t her real name.  Her real name is Claressa.  Friends and family just call her Ressa.  She’s from Flint, Michigan, and next year she’ll be a senior in high school.  The first day we met, it was her 17th birthday.  She had a water balloon fight and a big, yellow cake.  She carries her money around in a plastic bottle.  She wears her hair in braids (sometimes).  She takes the bus to school. She likes Twitter.  She likes boys.  She writes in her journal.  Pretty everyday for a teenager.  But this is hardly an everyday story.  Six years ago her dad took her to a local boxing gym.  She said she wanted to box.  He said, “Hell no. Boxing is a man’s sport.”  She ignored him.  Next month, women will box in the Olympics for the first time ever.  Claressa will be the youngest among them. And that’s just where her story begins.

What makes Claressa so extraordinary?  Is it abnormal physical strength?  A high tolerance for pain?  An exceptionally long reach?  Frankly, I don’t think her genes can be given even half the credit for what makes this girl a champion.  Her story is an amazing and inspiring one, and it’s one I can’t wait to see unfold on the world’s stage.  Back this project and become part of that story before August 4.


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