ELYRIA — Tianna (Madison) Bartoletta held a meet-and-greet at Elyria High School on Saturday afternoon, giving students the chance to ask questions of the three-time Olympic gold medalist.
Following a proclamation from Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda and a number of politicians’ speeches, Elyria High School senior William Waddell, 17, thanked Bartoletta for coming back to her hometown — something that was very inspirational for him.
“It just touches me that you want to come back and show that anybody can make it,” he said.
Coming from the south side of Elyria, he said Bartoletta showed the grit and strength he needs to pull himself up and do better, for himself and his family.
Bartoletta acknowledged the grit Waddell referenced, saying it was the daily grind of practice, waking up and going “to work” like anyone else, that earned her a medal. And in the thick of her training and competition, it was just doing what she needed to do.
“I made these Olympic teams by just doing all the little things I needed to do right every single day and only the thing added from the mountain, from the top of the podium in hindsight was the feeling of some huge accomplishment,” she said. “But when you’re in the thick of it it’s just, I woke up this morning, I put on my sneakers and I went to the track. Just like you wake up in the morning, you put on your work clothes and you do what you’re required to do or you do what you have to do. Day in and day out, and I just happened to be one of the people who are fortunate enough to get a little trinket, a little gold medal that says congratulations, you did what you needed to do.”
She went on, thanking everyone for the recognition and security she has received since returning to the city, her first time back in seven years.
“I just wanted to say that thank you because it’s been a long time since I’ve been home, and I really appreciate that you have made it clear to me that I will always have a home to come back to,” she said.
Photographer Kristin Bauer contributed to this story.
Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7245