During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, 10,500 athletes in 206 different countries will compete. One Oklahoman has his eye on a gold medal as he boarded a plane on Sunday for his destination in Brazil.
“Getting to go to the Olympics is a lifelong dream come true,” said Stephen Lambdin, Team USA.
With his bags packed for Rio, gold medal hopeful Lambdin is met with a patriotic send off at Will Rogers World Airport.
“I have a great support system, I believe I can do it, they believe I can do it,” he said. “When you’re surrounded by so much positive energy, it's hard not to be successful.”
Lambdin started the Korean martial art of taekwondo when he was only 6 years old.
“I got involved in taekwondo because I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle and when I was six years old, I guess it was the most logical way to get me down somewhat that path,” he joked.
He admits, though, that path wasn't always easy.
“I actually wasn't very good at it whenever I got started and everybody tried to encourage me to quit, maybe go find a different sport,” he remembers.
However, he says his love of the sport kept him focused, going on to win numerous national titles. He lives in Edmond and trains at Poos Taekwondo, which has prepared him for the ultimate international stage – competing for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“I got here through hard work not being the fastest, the biggest or the strongest,” Lambdin said. “I visualized going in opening ceremonies basically my whole athletic career. It's a huge honor, Team USA, there's no better athletic achievement I think.”
Lambdin will meet up with his teammates in the coming days ahead of the opening ceremonies on August 5.