Former coach and teammates at E.C. Glass react to David Verburg in the Olympics
LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - Joining the athletes in the Olympic Village this year is a 25-year-old man from Southwest Virginia.
David Verburg, who attended EC Glass High School in Lynchburg, is competing this year in the 400 meter dash in Rio.
Former track teammate Lakeem Kennedy says David Verburg's talent was clear as soon as he came to EC Glass High School.
"We had time trials, we ran the 100 and the 200 and it got to a point where we started off in the 200, everybody knew that David was going to win, so everybody after him was fighting for second place, not even first place anymore," said Kennedy.
But Kennedy says it was his uncle Rodney Smith, EC Glass's Head Track Coach, that helped Verburg find his true calling.
"He wanted to run the 100, 200, and my uncle seen something in him that he didn't see in himself, and wanted to run the 400," said Kennedy.
"I made the suggestion that he try the 400, and he was a team player and said I'll do whatever the team needs, tried the 400 and it done worked out well for him," said Coach Rodney Smith.
Well enough to take Verburg to States while at EC Glass, and set the school 400 meter record at 47.15 seconds.
Smith says he told Verburg to keep it up.
"When he left here, high school, he wanted to be an Olympic athlete. At that point, we didn't know if he would make it, but I told him follow your dreams and see how far they carry you. It's hard work, it's paying off for him now," said Smith.
From there, Verburg got a full track scholarship to George Mason, won the United States Track and Field Championship in 2015, and is now competing in the Olympic Games in Rio this summer.
Former teammate Matthew Smith says it has his city excited.
"We definitely take pride in it. You can see all around the school, people are saying David we're proud of you, see on Facebook things like that, everybody's saying oh this is the guy from Lynchburg," said Smith.
Kennedy says whether or not his friend brings home a medal, Verburg's success has inspired him and dozens of other students currently in the track program.
"It's just a story you can tell anybody that if you work hard to get to where you want to be at, then you can definitely get to where you want to be," said Kennedy.
All of Verburg's former teammates and his former coach will be watching anxiously as he takes the field for the track and field events when they kick off on Friday, August 12th.
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