Sports2022 Winter Olympics


Wisconsin native wins silver medal in men's 200 meter sprint

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Posted at 8:50 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 19:40:51-04

TOKYO — Kenny Bednarek, a native of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, secured a silver medal for Team USA in the men's 200 meter sprint.

Bednarek ran the fastest time in the quarterfinals with a time of 20.01.

He recorded a personal-best in the sprint Wednesday, finishing in 19.68.

Bednarek is now one of the fastest runners on the planet, but you might be surprised to find out from his own mother that he's not the greatest athlete.

"He was very uncoordinated as a youngster. I would have never ever imagined he'd be where he is now when he was four and five years old. I was like, boy he's clumsy!" Mary Ann Bednarek says.

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You might not have predicted Olympic success if you saw Bednarek growing up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

"Big shout-out Coach Sasada, because he was like, he's really special, and I was like, I know he's my kid," Mary Ann Bednarek says. "And he's like no no no, you don't understand. And at that time as a freshman, I didn't understand. I just thought he was Kenny and he runs."

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"The first time I saw him run was his eighth grade year," former Rice Lake track coach Jared Sasada says. "We had heard from the middle school coaches that this kid was pretty quick. A lot of times you hear that and you're like OK, a lot of times they're middle-school fast and when they get to high school, they don't quite match up. It takes them a little bit. We had him run a 400 against one of our guys and at the 250 mark, he blew them away."

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Coach Sasada and Kenny's mom both say the turning point in his career was the first time he made the WIAA state track and field meet.

"He came in second and I thought, that's God's way of saying he's not ready to cope with all of that," Mary Ann Bednarek says.

"It was a wake-up call when he lost those races at state," Sasada says. "That flipped the switch, because he wanted to keep getting better and better."

And now his Olympic goals are to become legendary.

"I'm used to it being me against the clock, but now I'm on the pro stage, so it won't be that easy," Kenny Bednarek says. "There's always going to be people around me when I'm running, so I got to make sure I just focus on my race. If I just focus on me and my running, I'll be fine. My whole goal is to be the best to ever do it, be faster than Bolt."

"His brother would tease him and say, you're going to be the next Usain Bolt," Mary Ann Bednarek says. "That's his goal, to be the fastest guy in the world."

And while Bednarek won silver in the men's 200 meters, he knows fan support will push him for more.

"Thank you for the support and I'll make sure to represent them well out there, and I'll make sure to bring the gold home," Bednarek says.

Bednarek can still win gold. He's scheduled to compete in the men's 4x100 meter relay.

Noah Lyles, reigning world champion of the event, took bronze.

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