— Swift feet carried Jeffrey Uzzell halfway around the world, but a humble spirit keeps him anchored firmly to the ground.
Uzzell, a 16-year-old member of the Jonesboro Church of Christ
in this Atlanta suburb, competed in the 100-meter dash in the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
It was the second such event — designed as an international sports, education and cultural festival for teenagers by the International Olympic Committee.
Though he struggled early in Nanjing, he won his final heat with a time of 11.04 seconds. The overall winner finished in 10.54 seconds — a time Uzzell had beaten during the 2014 season at his school, said athletic director and track coach Scott Queen.
Uzzell’s best time was 10.5 seconds, the fastest of any freshman in the country, Queen said.
“God has blessed Jeffrey with an amazing talent,” his coach added. “I’m excited about what God has in store for Jeffrey in the next couple of years.”
Nathaniel Collum, assistant minister for the Jonesboro church, described Uzzell as “wise beyond his years” and “a hard worker, and he wants to do his best.”
At first, it appeared that Uzzell wouldn’t make it to China. Recovering from an injury, he finished second at the U.S. Youth Olympic Trials.
Then the winner of the trials suffered an injury and was unable to compete.
“I was the youngest one competing,” Uzzell said, “and I honestly didn’t think I would make it.”
This school year he hopes to win the state championship and improve his times in the 200- and 100-meter dashes. In the summer, he hopes to compete in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships in Cali, Columbia. He hopes to compete in college — and, eventually, in the Summer Olympics.
Ron Edwards, the Jonesboro church’s minister, prays that the young athlete “will use his God-given talent to give God the glory.”
“He’s thoughtful, humble, polite,” Edwards said. “He’s not the typical, chest-pumping, swag athlete. There’s an air of humility around him.
“I think everyone sees that in Jeffrey. He’s the kind of kid you would want as a son.”