BRANDON — The first time Brittany McGee ever stepped on a track, she didn't know about technique or form. She didn't know anything about Jackie Joyner-Kersee or the rich tradition of United States track and field. Brittany did, however, know one thing.
"I thought it looked kind of boring and not very interesting," she said. "But I figured I'd give it a try."
Brittany's parents didn't know what to expect when they entered their daughter into the 100m race that day at the Sunshine State Games in Tallahassee. They knew Brittany was fast for her age, but the young girl didn't make it out of the preliminaries.
"But we saw she had that competitive spirit," said her father, Thomas McGee. "We kind of entered her into it on a whim, but she wasn't ever nervous and just ran her heart out."
Brittany has been running ever since. "It just feels really good competing against other people, and it's exhilarating to keep getting better," she said.
If Brittany, 12, keeps getting better, there's a possibility she may find herself wearing a United States Olympics jersey one day. The Brandon resident won a silver medal last week in the pentathlon at the U.S. Track and Field Junior Olympics in Greensboro, N.C.
The pentathlon consists of the 100m hurdles, shot put, high jump, long jump and the 800m sprint. Brittany said her favorite event is the long jump.
"Because when you have a good jump," she said, "it feels like you're flying."
Maybe even more impressive than Brittany's silver medal is the age group she dominated. She won't turn 13 until the end of the month, but she competed in the 13-14 division.
"It was funny because everyone was taller than me," she said.
The silver medal capped off quite a year for Brittany, who will enter the seventh grade in a few weeks at Williams Middle Magnet School for International Studies. She also set three national records in the pentathlon, 100m and long jump at the AAU Club National Championships held at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
So could the Olympics really be in Brittany's future?
"My wife and I have reservations about thinking that far ahead," Thomas McGee said. "But all her coaches seem to think she can do it. Just to hear Olympics and her name in the same breath is pretty amazing."
Fighting group will hold card in Germany
The Tampa-based mixed martial arts fighting organization Extreme Fighting Championships, or XFC, announced this week that it will hold its first international card in Germany on Dec. 12.
This marks a huge step for the XFC, widely considered the top regional promotion in Mixed Martial Arts. It's just the second time an American-based MMA organization will hold a card in Germany. The Ultimate Fighting Championships, MMA's pre-eminent organization, debuted in Germany in June.
"This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the athleticism and skill of XFC fighters internationally," XFC president John Prisco said. "It will inspire a greater appreciation and awareness of Germany's local up-and-coming fighters and simultaneously expose the future American MMA legends abroad."
The XFC recently opened a second MMA-themed gym on State Road 60 in Brandon in February. The organization will hold its next card, which will be broadcast live on HDNet, at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sept. 5.
Brandon Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org