Is there any sports ambassador bigger for Columbia County than Reese Hoffa?
And that's not a knock at his 5-foot-11, 315-pound frame.
The area boasts war veteran and world record-holder Scott Winkler, Ultimate Fighting Champion Forrest Griffin and recent X Games silver medalist Robbie Horton.
Hoffa's stage this week will trump them all.
The Lakeside graduate and U.S. shot putter, profiled in today's Augusta Chronicle , will step into the circle Friday for his qualifying throw. The finals will will be televised in prime time Friday on NBC.
Hoffa finished first in the U.S. Trials. He is the current world outdoor champion.
Joining him are Americans Christian Cantwell, the 2008 indoor champion, and Adam Nelson, a two-time Olympic silver medalist.
The United States has a strong chance to sweep the medals. And Hoffa has a good chance to be the one standing at the top of the podium.
He has been on this stage before, at the 2004 Athens Olympics. But after finishing second at the 2004 U.S. Trials, he qualified 22nd at the Olympics with a throw of 19.4 meters, nearly two meters shy of his qualifying throw.
This year, Hoffa is one of the Games' more compelling stories. A 4-year-old Hoffa, then Maurice Antawn Chism, and his 6-year-old brother burned down their Kentucky home while playing with a lighter. They were placed in an orphanage, and Hoffa was adopted by Steve and Cathy Hoffa.
His story was told in a July issue of ESPN The Magazine and a 2005 feature in The Washington Post . He was profiled at No. 73 in Time magazine's 100 U.S. athletes to watch in this year's Olympic games.
His personal blog, which hasn't been updated in more than a year, is titled "Fear The Hoffa," but the fear is saved for competitors only; he is known as an easygoing guy.
He scarfs down turkey legs to celebrate wins and juggles fire. He can solve a Rubik's cube in less than a minute. He once competed while wearing a mask as a marketing ploy and earned the moniker "The Unknown Thrower."
Plenty of people know him now. And many more should know him after the Olympics. NBC will broadcast the shot put finals Friday between 8 p.m. and midnight.
A gold medal would leave him in elite company on the world stage. But it should also give him rock star status at home.
Military Golfers tee off for tourney at Fort Gordon
Gordon Lakes Golf Course will hold the 2008 Armed Forces Championships, in which all branches of the military will compete.
Each branch held a weeklong trial camp that served as a qualifier.
The four-round event begins today and ends Wednesday.
The top six men and two women from the event will remain at Fort Gordon for a trial camp before competing in Ottawa against golfers from around the world.
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