An hour and 30 minutes before local Olympian Tianna Madison stepped off in the most anticipated 10 seconds of her life — a sprint in the 100 meter dash at Olympic Stadium in London — the magnitude of the race was not missed on the crowd that gathered at an Elyria restaurant to watch a live Internet stream
“She is a finalist in the Olympics. Oh my, gosh,” said Jackie Below, Madison’s former Elyria High School track coach.
Below spoke to no one in particular, but uttered the statement in a way that expressed the collective anxiety in the room as family and friends counted down the seconds until Madison’s feet pounded the ground in hopes of securing her first gold medal.
“Even if she doesn’t get the gold, the fact that she made it to the Olympics is big,” said Madison’s aunt, Patricia Madison. “How often do you get to say you know someone who makes it that far?”
To pass the time, the more than 25 people who gathered at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Midway Mall Boulevard talked among themselves, imagining what it would feel like if Madison crossed the finish line a winner.
“This is big,” said Jack Bollon, a man who said he has no ties to Madison, but the city they both call home. “It’s like …” Bollon’s voice trailed off in a long sigh as he shook his head in amazement.
“I’m sure she will do good,” he said. “She’s an inspiration.”
Shortly after 4:55 p.m. Saturday, Madison placed her feet in the starting blocks. Her faced was trained on the 100 meters in front of her.
“It’s going to be fast,” Below said. “It’s going to be under
11 seconds for all of them.”
Just as soon as the race started, it was over.
Madison finished fourth with a time of 10.85 seconds, just missing the bronze medal, which was won by Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, who finished with a time of 10.81 seconds. Madison went to London hoping to be crowned the fastest woman in the world and after a stellar performance walked away as the fourth fastest woman in the world.
Her parents, Joanne and Bobby Madison, were in London for the race and moments after posted on Facebook that they were beyond proud of Madison.
“Tianna deserves applause for an outstanding performance,” said the post on the Facebook page, Madison Family on the Road to London. “She clocked a lifetime best time of 10.85 seconds against veteran sprinters. Let’s not focus on the fourth place finish, but how she performed — jumper turned sprinter this year and clocked a 10.85. Phenomenal!”
The great pride carried over in Elyria.
“How can we not be proud of her?” said cousin Marcus Madison, who is an Elyria City Council member. “She is living out her dreams on the big screen in front of the world.”
Aunt Noreen Phelps said Madison’s journey to London, which started on the track fields of Elyria, is awe-inspiring.
“We have just been blessed to have her over there,” she said. “I still take pride in what she did.”
Madison has one more opportunity to bring home a gold medal. She is part of the USA women’s 4×100 relay, which takes place Thursday and Friday.
Regardless of the outcome of that race, Madison is posed to be hailed as a local hero in Elyria.
“She’s showing the kids in Elyria that just because they are from a small town that does not mean they can’t compete on the national stage,” Bollon said.