The first major news event I remember was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

I watched Kerri Strug run down and perform a perfect vault and was instantly hooked. I had so many questions. Who’s Kerri Strug? What’s a sprained ankle? What are the Olympics? When will they happen again? Is Atlanta a city or a state?

(Yes, I’ve always asked way too many questions. What can I say? I’m a born reporter.)

A few days later I found a pennant at the 7-Eleven below my house with the Atlanta Olympics logo on it, and from there every four years is like extra Christmas to me. I’ve been obsessed with the Summer Olympics ever since, and one of the reasons I wanted to be a sports reporter is so I could go to them one day.

So in July, I will be.

My flight and hotel are booked. I’ve tried and failed to learn Japanese. I have my credentials, and I’m going to the Tokyo for the Olympics. Not as an athlete, though there is nothing more flattering than when people assume that. I’ll be going as a reporter, covering real athletes with Virginia ties.

Do I wish I was going as an athlete? Truly, yes. Because for one thing, I think it’d be cool to get the Olympic rings tattoo when I get back, but if I do and people ask me what sports I competed in I’ll have to lie and say like archery or race walk or something.

But my Olympic athletic dreams died in fifth grade, when I tried to do a backflip off of an elliptical machine and knocked out my two front teeth. Also, I wasn’t nearly as good at softball as my oversized ego had me believe.

That doesn’t mean I can’t still pretend to be an elite athlete, though, and that’s where you all come in. Because there are currently 33 Summer Olympic sports, and I want to try all of them before I go.

Are you an athlete or coach in the area competing in an Olympic sport? It obviously doesn’t have to be at the level of Olympic competition. Whether it’s a high school or college team, a club, or just some friends playing around at the YMCA, I want you to train me in your sport.

Track teams? I was an all-conference hurdler in high school! Maybe you could teach me new methods, or help me finally get over the bar in high jump. Also I like to think I’d be pretty good at the race walk.

A gymnastics gym? I’ve always dreamed of learning how to do a roundoff backhandspring.

Baseball or softball team? I played all my life. I think I’ve still got it.

Or even some of the lesser known sports. Archery? Never tried it!

Water polo? I’ve watched a ton but never actually gotten in the water!

Actual polo? No longer an Olympic sport, but equestrian is, and I don’t know how to ride a horse!

What about surfing? Might be a little tough in southern Virginia, but I’m up for a drive if you are!

Or even karate and taekwondo? As long as I don’t have to be barefoot, I’ll try that too!

Golfers, boxers, wrestlers, volleyball players, skateboarders, climbers, even badminton players, if you play or compete in an Olympic sport, please train me. Because I pretend to know a lot, but there’s a lot I don’t know, and I want to.

If you’re willing to train me for a day, and let me ask you about a million questions and write a story about your sport, please email cara.cooper@martinsvillebulletin.com.

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