#ACCOlympics: Learning More About George Kitchens, Jr.

Aug. 8, 2012

Compiled & Written by Jeff Fann for theACC.com

Former Clemson Tiger track & field star George Kitchens, Jr. competed in the 2012 Olympic long jump event last Friday. While he did not medal, just making the TEAM USA was a testament to what Kitchens has overcome in his life: He is an inspiration.

Kitchens grew up outside of Augusta, Ga. In 1995 when he was 12 years old, intruders shot him, his sister and a friend in his home. The first bullet that hit Kitchens was an inch from his heart. He could hear the attackers saying, "He's not dead. He's not dead. Shoot him again to see." Then a second bullet tore through his right forearm.

Nearly 17 years later, Kitchens still bears the scar of that terrible day near his heart. All three victims survived but his sister was left paralyzed. He has used that as motivation to excel in his sport, becoming a three-time ACC champion in the long jump. While at Clemson, he faced another obstacle with the sudden loss of his jumps coach Jarrett Foster who died in a boating accident in 2006.

He appreciates every hard step it took to become an Olympian, "because it could've been taken away from me at an early age."

“The whole experience is surreal,” Kitchens said. “It’s like a dream – just being here. This is something every athlete in the world aspires to do in track and field. “To be here is great.”

Kitchens still trains in his hometown of Augusta where he’s employed as a personal trainer. He also works with aspiring long jumpers like Myles McDavid, who will be competing at Georgia Tech next year. Since meeting Kitchens, McDavid has improved his long jump by an incredible 8 inches.

George Kitchens, Jr. embodies the perseverance it takes to overcome enormous personal hardships. He is an inspiration the next generation of U.S. track & field stars.