Memphis Olympian creates excitement back home - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Memphis Olympian creates excitement back home

On Independence Day, there might be nothing more patriotic than earning the chance to represent your country in the Olympics.  Memphian Gil Stovall has done just that, and the excitement is being felt right here at home.

One Memphis family wanted everyone to see how proud they are.  The McCaghren family created a giant banner, on white paper painted red and blue, held up with old tiki torches and wooden stakes.

Even erecting the tribute was an enormous task.

"It took us all day," Mary Jane McCaghren said.

Still, they were happy to put the sign together for Stovall, a man children in their neighborhood look up to.

"Everytime he comes here, he gives us individual lessons," Tal Keel said.

Stovall, who grew up in Memphis, qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing this August in the 200 meter butterfly.

Jake McCaghren, himself a swimmer, watch's Stovall's qualifying race anxiously.

"On that race when he got up on the blocks I was just so nervous for him," he said.

Stovall's unexpected second place finish earned him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, to the delight of his young fans. 

"We were all screaming so loud. The room was just full of energy," Jake McCaghren said.

Now the neighborhood is full of cheer and everyone who drives or walks past gets a dose.

"I think it's fantastic, especially when he wasn't the favorite to win," passer-by Beth Miller said.

Pride, sent from the corner of Grove Park and Walnut Grove all the way to Beijing.

"I think he'll do pretty well. He's hoping to get a silver medal. And I think he'll do it," Jake McCaghren said.

And they have more supplies on stand-by, just in case another banner is necessary a month from now.

Click here to e-mail Nick Kenney.

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