JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - It's a long way from Johnson City to Brazil, but weightlifter Jordan Beard hopes to make that journey in 2016 and stand on the Olympic podium while the national anthem plays.
"I'm willing to work hard and go as far as I can," said Beard.
"I had never thought about it until a year ago, when the opportunity since then it's a dream that's grown continuously," says fellow weightlifter May Thompson.
Reaching her Olympic goal took a major step forward Tuesday with the announcement that ETSU is now an official Olympic training site for weightlifting. It?s a designation that's taken more the three years to receive.
"We managed to get through everything we needed to satisfy the Olympic committee we could do a job for them," said Meg Stone, the director of ETSU?s Olympic Training Site.
Jordan Beard and May Thompson are two of the half dozen elite weight lifters already training at ETSU.
The program is expected to double in size this summer. ?We have inquiries from people in the world junior championships, people who have been in the elite level of other squads," said Stone.
Creating the training site did not require any additional state funding. ETSU becomes one of only 14 Olympic training sites in the country.
There are only two other sites for weightlifting. "I was trying to go to Colorado to the training site, do an internship, why not stay here," says Beard.
The Olympic athletes will follow a strict training schedule which includes workouts as much as three times a day in some cases.
Two members of ETSU's sports sciences department staff already have experience working with Olympic training sites.
The facility will also be open to non-students who are training for the Olympics.
ETSU is already looking to expand its Olympic training site. The next sport they are hoping to attract is cycling.