Olympic fever permeated on Sunday afternoon throughout the home where U.S. Olympic team member Erik Kynard grew up in Toledo.
A banner stating "Erik, we believe you can fly" hung inside the living room where approximately 50 family members, friends, and neighbors glued their eyes to the big screen television to watch for any Olympic coverage about the preliminary round of the 2012 London Olympics men's high jump event.
Plenty others filled the basement to watch coverage on another television connected to a computer that was broadcasting real-time coverage and highlights of Kynard's specialty event. More than half of them were wearing T-shirts made by a family friend that depicted Kynard's likeness clearing a high bar.
The group in the basement cheered each time the highlights showed even a glimpse of the Rogers graduate sitting on a bench designated for the high jump competitors. However, they roared every time the highlights showed Kynard clearing any height.
"I'm glad that I was here with my family watching and listening, trying to follow online and all that good stuff," said Kynard's mom, Brandynn Adams, who was up by 6 a.m. to begin preparing for the all-day gathering. "I'm really excited for Erik to be able to stay so focused and disciplined and follow his dreams.
"I'm just a ball of nerves."
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Kynard, a two-time NCAA outdoor high jump champion and U.S. Olympic trials runner-up, didn't take long to diminish some of the anxiety among his closest supporters. He looked calm and confident on his way to earning a spot in the high jump finals set for Tuesday. He is tied for third overall after clearing 2.29 meters (7 feet, 6 inches) on his second attempt at the height.
Kynard is one of seven jumpers to clear 2.29, including U.S. teammate Jesse Williams and Great Britain's Robert Grabarz, who is in first place without any misses.
Kynard's stepfather, Chris Adams, spent much of the time making sure the laptop connected to the TV in the basement continued to provide up-to-date results.
"It's exciting," Chris Adams said. "We'd like to know that Erik is going all the way and he's going to bring home the gold to the USA.
"I'm kind of nervous, but I used to be right there in the yard with Erik when he would long jump and everything else and when he used to jump over the wire fence [in the backyard]. He has a lot of drive about himself and a lot of discipline. He's very competitive, and he doesn't like to lose."
The group had plenty of fish and fries to eat.
"This is all wonderful," said Evan McKinney, the designer of the T-shirts worn by many of Kynard's family members and friends. "Hopefully he can bring home the gold. If not, the silver or bronze. If nothing, it's a great opportunity, and we still love him."
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