There were an awful lot of hopes dashed this past week when Reese Hoffa, the Lakeside High School graduate and top-ranked shot putter, came in seventh place at the 2008 Olympics.
His extended family, which includes a birth-mom and an adoptive mom, along with an adoptive father and stepmom, had high hopes for Hoffa bringing home gold. His dad's Harlem home was celebration central, with big banners out front hailing to passersby.
Hoffa's alma mater was buzzing with excitement, too. The fence alongside the football field, where Hoffa's wrestling uniform was retired in a halftime ceremony four years ago, was festooned with decorations expressing hopes for Hoffa's success.
Even the media got into the act. Believe it or not, the press likes good-news stories, too, and Hoffa's storyline is nearly magical: Given up for adoption, becoming a successful student and athlete, advancing to the 2004 Olympics and top ranking in the world before again making it to the stage in Beijing.
Alas, the gold medal wasn't within reach this year. Hoffa faulted on the first of six throws in the finals, and again on No. 5 and 6 to finish in seventh place.
Sure, it's disappointing. But just put it in perspective: How many other Columbia County residents are competing in the Olympics? How many other athletes can lay claim to the top ranking in the world in their sport?
The fact is, even without a medal this time around, Hoffa is a monumental success. He's gone further than any other athlete in our community, ever, and still has many competitive days ahead of him.
Best of all, that community that held such high hopes for Hoffa in China still holds its heads high for his return.
Welcome home, Reese. We're proud of you.
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