Jeannie Yazell figured after her daughter, Kayla Harrison, won the judo gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, she’d quietly return home to Marblehead, Mass.
That hasn’t been the case.
Since she won the gold — becoming the first American to win in judo — Harrison, a Middletown native, has been “quite busy” with television appearances and telephone interviews, her mother said.
Now Yazell realizes winning the gold medal was “a pretty big deal.”
Harrison has informed Middletown city and school officials that she will be in town Aug. 28, and leaders are planning “a very memorable day for everybody involved,” said Mark Kerns, a Middletown High School teacher who volunteered to be a liaison between the school district and city.
On Monday, people are meeting in the City Building to pitch ideas on how to celebrate Harrison’s gold medal, the second won by a Middletown native. Jerry Lucas won a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team.
Yazell said she’d like the school and city to celebrate both of those golden achievements, possibly simultaneously. She suggested a sign welcoming people to Middletown, the “Home of Olympic Champions,” or erecting a sign near the high school entrance, calling it “Olympic Way.”
Gary Lebo, MHS athletic director, called Harrison’s gold medal performance “quite an honor for her hometown.”
However the group decides to celebrate, Lebo hopes it’s “a real nice event and we make it special for her.”
Harrison returned to the United States Monday and has been on a media tour.
“Her schedule is absolutely insane right now,” said her trainer, Jimmy Pedro, of Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield, Mass. “She’s exhausted, she’s really exhausted.”
She will be in New York this morning to open up the New York Stock Exchange, sandwiched between radio and TV appearances in the early morning and afternoon, he said.
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