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Future Olympians? Roanoke Valley family gains national attention on the track

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SALEM (WSLS 10) -- We may have some future Olympians growing up right here in the Roanoke Valley. One family in Salem spent the summer working hard on the track, training for the ESPN Club Championships in Orlando, Florida.

Of the 23 national championship medals that the team won, four of those medals belong to the three kids in the Loder family.

11-year-old Sydney wins pentathlon Gold Medal
11-year-old Sydney wins pentathlon Gold Medal

Their daughter, Sydney, won two medals at the national meet, including first place in the pentathlon-- a competition made up of five separate events.

"It is the 80-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and the 800," says Sydney. "It was a big honor to be able to go down there and i just had a lot of fun with it."

This was her first time competing in the national championship hosted at the ESPN facilities, a moment her mom Bekka says, was nerve-wrecking for her entire family.

"We figured she could medal and as each event progressed, it got to the top three and going into the last event she was in 1st spot. it was beyond what we thought she would do, so it was amazing," says Bekka.

Sydney's brothers Bradey and Joey each brought home medals of their own as well. Bradey, who is just 14, competed against an older age group of boys to place 6th in the javelin throw. Joey, just 8 years old, brought home an 8th place medal for the 1500 meter race.

The kids credit their athleticism to their parents; especially their dad Jeff, who played hockey in Canada before moving to Roanoke to play for the Roanoke Express team in the mid-1990s.

Joey, 8-years-old, shows off his medal with parents, Jeff and Bekka
Joey, 8-years-old, shows off his medal with parents, Jeff and Bekka

While in Orland, Bradey, Sydney and Joey Loder faced some of the nation's best track and field athletes. This is an event that brings out the best of the best-- many of these competitors even go on to compete at the world level once they're old enough.

Bradey, 14, competed in the 15/16 age group-- earning 6th place for the javelin throw
Bradey, 14, competed in the 15/16 age group-- earning 6th place for the javelin throw

"You'll see a lot of the kids that run in that meet will eventually make it to the Olympics," says Bradey. "It makes me feel like I've accomplished something. You train so long for maybe 13 seconds, to run one race. It makes you feel good when you've finished the race."

Those 13 seconds were very exciting for their parents, watching all of their kids compete for the first time at this national competition.

"You're always doing what they're doing," explains Bekka. "So if they're throwing, you're moving with them. If they're jumping, you're going up in the air. Your heart is racing, and when they cross the finish line-- that's when you can breathe again."

Now that their competition is over, they're ready to watch some of the best competitors in the world as the Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro later tonight.

8-year-old Joey gets some air at the national competition in Orlando
8-year-old Joey gets some air at the national competition in Orlando