Stockbridge graduate goes for gold in winter Olympics

Stockbridge is about to bust its proverbial vest buttons as hearts swell with pride for Olympic bobsledder Chris Kinney.

The 29-year-old Kinney is competing in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Team USA’s four-man bobsled team.

Kinney posted on Twitter, “Being at the Olympics has been life changing. I’ve always loved meeting and conversing with people from other cultures. To do so and compete against them in sport is the greatest pleasure I’ve experienced in life!”

Local fans would love to see their hometown hero bring home the gold.

“Chris grew up in Stockbridge,” Stockbridge Main Street Program Assistant Lisa Fareed said.

The program mounted displays featuring Kinney, “our own international athlete,” Fareed said, at city hall and his three local alma maters — Stockbridge Elementary School, Austin Road Middle School and Stockbridge High School, from which he graduated in 2007.

Fareed said his story is “history in the making,” with a chapter written in Washington, D.C.

Vice President Mike Pence wrote Mayor Anthony S. Ford a letter dated Feb. 2, included in the displays.

“I am proud to join the people of Stockbridge in honoring your community’s own Chris Kinney as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in PyeongChang, South Korea,” Pence said. “Together, the members of our Olympic team represent the strength of our nation and the destiny of American greatness at home and around the world. I join Americans everywhere in applauding these athletes and cheering them on as they reach for their dreams.”

Stockbridge Mayor Anthony S. Ford’s letter from Vice President Mike Pence, praising Olympic bobsled athlete Chris Kinney.

Pence said he conveyed the nation’s pride in Stockbridge for representing America on the world stage.

“Please know that I will be rooting for Chris,” he said. “May God bless the people of Stockbridge.”

According to Kinney’s NBC Olympics biography, he was born in Athens, Ga., and claims New York as his permanent residence.

At 6-2 and 216 pounds, he is a former Georgetown University track and field hurdler who earned All-American and broke school records in the outdoor 110m hurdles and indoor 60m hurdles.

Kinney’s journey took him to Japan for four years, where he worked as a model and in sales and marketing, ran track professionally and learned the skill of artistic paper folding; he posts his origami on Instagram.

His running skills found another outlet.

“While in Japan, he decided he wanted to try bobsled, which he first discovered by watching the 1998 Nagano Olympics,” the biography states. “He is now a U.S. bobsled push athlete.”

According to the biography, Kinney answered a question about bobsled misconceptions he wanted to clear up by answering, “We do not practice in bathtubs.”

Practice on the powder has paid off; he has achieved his ambition, which is “to compete at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang,” according to the International Olympic Committee website, which lists the sport as “bobsleigh.”

The four-man bobsled training heats start Feb. 21.

Televised events are training heats Feb. 22 at 8 p.m., Runs 1 and 2 on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Runs 3 and 4 on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m., followed by final runs at 8 p.m.

Information: www.nbcolympics.com/bobsled or the Olympic committee at http://bit.ly/2BFkTLi

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