Hundreds of fans and supporters crowded the square in Decatur Sept. 20 to celebrate two 2012 Olympic medalists from DeKalb County.
Dee Dee Trotter, a Cedar Grove High School graduate, won both gold and bronze track and field medals in the 4x400m and 400m, respectively. Angelo Taylor, a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School, won a silver track-and-field medal in the 4x400m during the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London, England.
DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said, “Every four years at the summer Olympic Games, the strongest, most dedicated and most accomplished athletes among us represent the United States on the world stage. To don the U. S. Olympic team uniform is an honor that very few achieve.
“To stand on the podium during a medal ceremony is an extraordinary feat,” Ellis said. “You are among an elite group of athletes—the best in the world.”
Dr. Eugene Walker, chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Education, said, “This is a tremendous honor for the parents of these Olympians, the families of these Olympians, for the schools of these Olympians and for this fantastic community of these Olympians. This is a moment we can all share.”
“This is what bling looks like,” said Rep. Howard Mosby, referring to the medals the Olympians were wearing.
During the ceremony, Trotter and Taylor received several proclamations and awards from their schools and various government and athletic organizations.
Cedar Grove High Principal Pamela Benford, who was Trotter’s science teacher, said Trotter was a “stellar” student.
“One of my first memories of Dee Dee is my reprimanding her for being late to my science class,” Benford said. “Imagine my surprise to find out that she was a track-and-field star, because one place I don’t remember her running to was my class.”
Carolyn Williams, principal at Southwest DeKalb High School, where Taylor attended, said, “Thank you for being courageous enough to take risks and accomplish so much. We at Southwest DeKalb…love you so much and we’re so proud that you’re a lasting legend for us at SWD.”
Taylor thanked the participants for attending, saying, “As I look out into this crowd, I see many faces that have inspired me, encouraged me and supported me throughout my long career.
“I’ve had some challenges along the way,” Taylor said. “I’ve had some ups and I’ve had some downs. It’s been a long road. It’s been a long career and I have all this hardware to show for it.”
Trotter, whose Olympic career was put on hold after major knee surgery in 2008, encouraged the many students at the event to persistently pursue their dreams.
“There is a lot that goes into being a world-class athlete,” Trotter said. “But there’s more that goes into being a world-class person.
“If it were not for my faith in God, if it were not for my strength in him, I would not be here standing today talking to you with these medals around my neck,” Trotter said.
“No matter my dream, I worked hard at whatever I was doing,” Trotter said, fighting back tears. “I never, ever, ever one time gave up. Even when my knee didn’t work, I didn’t give up. Even though trials and tribulations came and they tried to slow me down and the hurdles kept jumping in my way, I never gave up.
“I fell; I got back up. I fell; I got back up. If you fall, get back up. Never give up,” Trotter said. “And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”