Thursday May 31, 2012
Augusta, Ga--"It showed me I can endure anything and I can persevere and I can rise to the top of anything because I was shot twice and left for dead and my sister was as well and Lyndon, he was shot in the head and left for dead and all of us survived."
Glenn Hills product George Kitchens is one of the top ten long jumpers in the world. In late june, he'll be in Eugene, Oregon trying to qualify for the United States Olympic team.
"It'll mean a lot to me" said George Kitchens "This has been the biggest thing that I've wanted to accomplish since I was a child. And when you think of track and field, all you see is the Olympics, that's like the Super Bowl of my sport.
But when George was a child, 12 years old, his life, his sister's, and a friend of her's nearly ended in a matter of seconds.
"He told me to get out of the car, chased him into our hous. We followed him in pursuit and he had shot him (Lyndon Fubler) in the head, came and shot me in the chest, and then shot my sister, and paralyzed her. At that point I wasn't dead, so he shot me in the arm again to see if I was still alive or not and at that point I had to play dead"
Kitchens playing dead saved him and possibly that of his sister Sheila and friend Lyndon Fubler. There are two constant reminders of what he nearly lost.
"Every day I look at those scars. I have a scar on my chest and a scar on my arm and they reminds me of how fortunate I am to be here."
His sister is paralyzed, Fubler has recovered, so too has Kitchens. What he's been through is all the motivation he needs.
"Everything that happened after that was a gift in my eyes" said Kitchens "I had to make the best of every moment, every experience that I have because that could have been taken away from me and my family at 12 years old."
Long jumping has come natural to him. First in the AAU ranks, then with the Spartans and then at Clemson. Becoming an Olympian is the next step for the now 29 year old at the peak of his career
"It does become mental at that point because everyone out there is physcially talented and on any given day they can jump well but the mental part of it definitely plays a role and that comes from your training, just being prepared from your training."
Hard to believe anyone else will be more mentally prepared then George Kitchens.
"It took me a while to find myself because it was very frustrating but even now it's a work in progress. I"m trying to reach for more. Until I break the world record, I'm always going to want more."