Four Olympians from the Spokane area will reflect on their experiences at the world’s highest level of competition as part of a panel discussion Tuesday evening at the Downtown Spokane Public Library.
The discussion, “From Hometown Heroes to the World Stage,” will be moderated by John Blanchette, a contributing sports columnist for The Spokesman-Review. The free event will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on the library’s third-floor stage.
It complements “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America,” a traveling Smithsonian exhibition that highlights the various ways in which sports impact Americans and their cities.
Don Kardong, a longtime Spokane resident, as well as Eastern Washington natives Will Brandenburg, Jamie Redman and Joshua Olson, will discuss their Olympic experiences.
Kardong grew up in Seattle, got a degree from Stanford and then another one from the University of Washington before he ended up in Spokane for a teaching job. He competed in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and finished fourth in the marathon.
A year later he founded the Bloomsday race in Spokane. The 70-year-old Kardong recently retired from his role as Bloomsday race director.
Will Brandenburg’s appearance in the 2010 Olympics came as a skier, when he finished 10th in the men’s super combined race in Vancouver.
Brandenburg, 32, was born in Walla Walla but graduated from Mead High School in 2005. He was named to the U.S. development team a year later.
In 2012, Jamie Redman was an alternate on the gold-winning United States women’s rowing team in London. The 32-year-old Redman graduated from Lewis & Clark High School and then rowed at Yale, where she was a two-time All-America selection.
Redman was also involved in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, as athlete services coordinator for the Team USA Paralympic athletes.
Joshua Olson, a 1997 graduate of Freeman High School, served in the 2003 Iraq War, where he lost his leg to a rocket-propelled grenade. While still an active duty soldier, Olson competed in Para Shooting at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and placed 12th in the mixed 50-meter rifle prone SH1 event.
The Hometown Teams exhibits, part of the Museum on Main Street collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Humanities Washington, runs through August 3.
Spokane’s Downtown, South Hill and Shadle libraries are hosting numerous film screenings, lectures and discussions, all of them free, the next few weeks. Many of the exhibits specifically highlight sports’ impact on Spokane.
More information about them is available at Spokanelibrary.org.
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