'I did it!': Mount Prospect Olympic hurdler going for the gold in Tokyo

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The race took less than a minute but the results took a lifetime.

"All of the sudden I just got struck by this, what did I just do? Did I actually do this," David Kendziera Jr. asked himself. "Now, it's become so surreal. I don't even really know how to accept it. It's definitely been an emotional roller coaster. 'Ok, yeah, you are an Olympian. You're going to make this team,' and then it was like, 'Oh my God, I did it!'"

"At first, you're just so happy, and then you're relieved and then it's like, 'Oh my God, he's going to the Olympics, it's still setting in-- he is an Olympian - like wow," said Kendziera's mom Maureen.

"Oh my lord, he took us on such a ride," added his dad, David Sr. "All through high school and college, he kind of goes off in his own space, in his own head. He's so focused on everything he does."

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That Olympic mindset is part of 26-year-old Kendziera's M.O., wowing mom and dad at the University of Illinois and at Mount Prospect High School -- where he was originally fired from running hurdles.

"The coach sent him over to the hurdle guy. The hurdle guy was like, 'No way. I don't want him, this is going to be terrible.' And David sprouted that summer and really worked hard," Maureen said. "He came out his junior year and he was just beautiful and I thought, "Wow, Dave. You have a gift with this.'"

"That belief [that] someone believes in me that much, and then that comfort in my body and in my mind -- since then, I've never had a false start and I just knew that my talent could get me to where I needed to be," Kendziera said.

Mount Prospect still believes in the young Olympian, so much so they even hosted a parade over the 4th of July to show just a taste of the overwhelming local support.

"It has been so nice. I mean, everybody. The parade on Sunday, the people were chanting, and cheering, 'Go, Dave,'" Maureen said.

"Seeing all the support I was getting, it just made it so much better. I mean, then you're not just thinking by yourself, 'Can I do this or not?' You just have everyone giving you all this positive energy. Only then thinking positively," Kendziera said.

Positive thinking and encouragement from his parents kept Kendziera going during the unknown of the pandemic, which was an experience he thinks prepared him for the unknown of the Olympics, where he hopes to finish on the podium.
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