At last, Toledo was able to honor its silver-medal star.
After jumping over a bar in London, flashing his winning smile on morning television, and plopping onto the chair of a famous talk show set, Erik Kynard, Jr., pulled himself out of a yellow Corvette convertible Saturday and rushed a crowd that assembled to celebrate his glory.
An estimated 1,000 people convened at the football stadium at Rogers High School, paying homage to the high jump silver medalist in the recent Olympic Games. Proceeding from nearby McTigue Elementary, a parade that included the school's marching band and a police brigade on motorcycles delivered Kynard, a two-time state champion at Rogers, to the stadium.
"The biggest blessing of all is to be a blessing to somebody else," Kynard said later. "I'm seeing that live in effect today. The turnout was amazing. I thought it was a football game."
Kynard, the city's first Olympic medalist since Edmund Coffin won two equestrian golds in 1976, was showered with gifts -- none that will compromise his eligibility as a student athlete at Kansas State -- by luminaries representing the city and Toledo Public Schools.
Councilman Steven Steel announced that Aug. 18 will forever be Erik Kynard, Jr., Day in Toledo, Mayor Mike Bell presented a key to the city, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) presented an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol.
Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and Carol Contrada, along with Auditor Anita Lopez, gave him a ceramic figurine of the Lucas Country Frog because, as Ms. Wozniak explained, "you both leap."
Kynard, the last to speak, encouraged children to stay in school, avoid drugs, and refrain from getting tattoos. He paused for a moment when he saw a former high school teacher in the stands. Kynard on Friday had tried unsuccessfully to contact Joe Boyle, a cancer patient hospitalized in Ann Arbor. Kynard was stunned to see him there.
Whether it was her intention or not, Kynard's mother, Brandynn Adams, used an appropriate pun as she implored parents to hold their children accountable. "We have to raise the bar for our kids," she said.
Kynard, 21, cleared 2.33 meters (7.64 feet) on Aug. 7 in his first Olympic appearance. Russia's Ivan Ukhov captured the gold with a winning jump of 2.38 meters (7.81feet).
Kynard, a two-time NCAA champion, would not say if he has received any offers to endorse athletic apparel companies. If he fielded any, he must have turned them down. Kynard will return to Kansas State for his senior season, keeping intact his amateur status.
Gregarious, funny, and with four or five years before he's expected to reach his peak athletically, Kynard could soon experience a financial windfall.
"For obvious reasons, I'm not going to mention that stuff, but you can kind of just use common sense," Kynard said, adding, "I have a silver medal at 21. That will take care of itself."
Kynard believes that to achieve his ultimate goal of winning gold in 2016, he must improve his preparation. Not averse to indulging in bad food -- "Eat like a pig, train like a horse" is his motto -- Kynard is tweaking his diet in advance of the 2016 Rio Games.
He's already started, choosing a banana after the ceremony over a selection of sweets.
"After taking second, everything is going to be perfect," he said.
Spectators, who were given miniature American flags and placards from The Blade adorned with Kynard's photos, broke into chants of "USA, USA" and "Rio, Rio."
This whirlwind, which has taken Kynard to the sets of the Today show and The Late Show with David Letterman, is approaching the end. Today he will move back to Kansas State, where classes begin Monday, and will continue training for the winter indoor season.
A business major, Kynard is expected to graduate this year.
Kynard, who figures he has averaged three hours of sleep a night since the Olympics, won't be getting much this week.
"Still haven't done the media thing in Manhattan yet," he said. "It's going to be a long week."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade