Monday, August 11, 2008

Cullen's gold: The aftermath

Former N.C. State swimmer Cullen Jones has been making the rounds a little bit, his gold medal on his neck, in the aftermath of helping the U.S. win the 4x100 relay Sunday night (Eastern time). On Monday, I caught up with him twice.

Once was at the Bank of America Hometown Hopefuls center in Beijing, which is geared toward assisting athletes' families who are going to the Olympics. The other one was by mistake, when Jones showed up at the same TV studio where I was taping an interview in (which is for broadcast Monday night on WCNC somewhere between 7:30 and 8 p.m. if you care).

In any case, Jones (who now lives in Charlotte) talked to reporters and also some regular folks at the B of A appearance. One of the most interesting questions he was asked came not from a reporter but from the 50-year-old mother of a U.S. Olympic boxer. The lady said she had almost drowned when she was 12, and as a result of that terrifying experience had never learned to swim. "Is it too late for me?" she asked.

"It's never too late," said Jones, who wants to use his gold medal as a springboard to help get more minorities swimming. Then he gave her some more encouraging words. It was nice.

I'm writing another big story on Jones and that extraordinary relay for Tuesday's paper -- watch for that. He's a fun subject.

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