WACO, Texas – Ever since he was ten years old, Wil London has dreamed of representing his country at the Olympics. By this time next week – he hopes to finally be realizing this dream.
Earlier this month, London got the call to represent Team USA as an alternate on the Track and Field team and will don his nation’s colors.
“I’ve [represented the U.S.] for other stages, but I think as an Olympian, it’s going to hit way different,” London said. “That’s, like, the biggest stage you could possibly be on.”
Growing up in Waco, London didn’t have to look far for inspiration. After his own track practices, he would stick around to watch Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner practice at Baylor, hoping to emulate one of the world’s greatest runners.
“He practiced the same way through his whole career. When he came out here, no talking. Now I’ve got that trait in me,” London said. “When I come out here, I come to practice the same way. Earphones on, my music is playing, and it’s just me and the track.”
Just like your average sports fan at the Summer Games would, London is treating his Tokyo business trip as a priceless experience.
“I’ll use this opportunity to savor it and enjoy it,” London said. “You never know what can happen the next time.”
Even as an alternate, London refuses to change the mindset that got him to track’s biggest stage.
“Regardless if I’m an alternate, I’m out on the track,” London said. “I’m out there, and I’m ready to run at all times. I feel like you’ve got to stay that way. You’ve got to stay hungry. Like I told Coach (Hart), regardless of what happens, I’m always ready.”
In Tokyo, the stadiums will be empty. The athletes will not be able to mingle with their competition, and they will be forced to sleep on cardboard beds.
For London, it will make no difference.
“I really don’t care,” London said of the restrictions in Tokyo. “I could be sleeping on the floor, I’m still excited to go. This is the Olympics.”