Kenny Selmon competes in the 400-meter hurdles in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Selmon’s Instagram

This past summer, Pace alum Kenny Selmon competed for the US track team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Selmon competed in the 400-meter hurdles on July 29 and advanced to the semifinals. After graduating high school in 2014, he continued his running career at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. At the Olympics, he finished second in heat two, but unfortunately did not advance past the semifinals. 

Before the Olympics, there was a lot of uncertainty as to whether Tokyo citizens actually wanted the Olympians in the city. “The people were very nice,” said Selmon. “There were people on the corners waving at us to enter. The love was very much felt.” Even with all of the COVID-19 restrictions, the feeling of support was one part of the Olympic experience that never changed.

Typically, a large part of the experience is socializing with athletes from other countries, but COVID-19 prevented much of this from happening. Since families could not attend The Games, socializing and supporting others became extremely important. “Yeah, so that’s kind of where the dining hall came into play, and we were able to mingle and talk,” said Selmon.

The athletes found a way to work around the language barrier while still following protocol. “There are always limited barriers, but it was cool to kind of break that down,” said Selmon. “An easy way to do so was trading pins. They give you a bunch of pins that have your country on it, so you know, you’re supported. And so the thing to do is just to trade those.” This way athletes could cheer each other on from afar. 

“I think Pace has built me to be the outgoing and accepting person I am,” he said. While in Tokyo, Selmon had to use skills Pace taught him to communicate with the other athletes. “I know Pace has shaped me as a person and I think that person fits very well into these kinds of environments,” said Selmon.

Selmon has many memories at Pace Academy, but some of his favorites were with the track team. “I think that when our four-by-four relay won state. It was pretty special that we had gotten that far and were able to pull it out,” said Selmon. He loved the track team and the community around it. Selmon remarks about how diverse the team was and how “it was really cool to just kind of just go to practice and see everybody and the talent from all over.”

Selmon is excited to see what his future holds. Right now, he is training full-time with the Georgia Tech Track Team and is preparing for the next season. When asked if he is going to compete in Paris 2024, he said, “As it stands now, 100%.”

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