East Texas town cheers on Olympic speed skater - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

East Texas town cheers on Olympic speed skater

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HUGHES SPRINGS, TX (KLTV) -

Opening ceremonies for the Sochi Winter Olympics start Friday morning, but one East Texas city will be paying attention to a lot more than just the gold medal count.

Drive down First Street in Hughes Springs and you'll see the banner for Olympic speed skater Jonathan Garcia, who has family that lives in the town.

"I guess i didn't realize what it meant at first. We're behind you. We love you Jonathan," says Garcia's grandmother Sally Welch.

Family members say Jonathan developed a certain athletic tenacity at the age of six.

"I remember going to see him the first time he skated. He would fall down and fall down and fall down. His mother said 'Jonathan you need to quit', and he said but I like it mom. So that started it. From then on he would get up do it again," Welch says.

Even city officials are caught up in Olympic fever.

"People watch the Olympics all the time but it’s always people you don't know, don't know their families. But in this case there’s really roots to the community where you can take pride and take ownership. You are talking ticker tape parade man," says Hughes Springs City Manager George Fite.

Garcia failed to make the 2010 team, but trained for another 4 years, and made the 2014 team.

"He raced in the 1000 and he made the team. That’s what he's been training for and worked so long for. He's just focused on training and that’s his life," says Garcia's aunt Toni Black.

But win or lose, Garcia is already a hero in Hughes Springs.

"We'll be screaming our heads off," Fite says.

"I'm just really so excited and proud of him," says Welch.

City officials are planning to set up a big screen TV in a downtown building, and invite all residents to come out and watch Garcia on the nights that he competes.

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