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Road to Rio: Local fans play waiting game as Jenny Arthur's Olympic debut nears
2012 Chestatee High graduate and U.S. Olympic weightlifter Jenny Arthur with fellow Olympians, Serena and Venus Williams at the George Bush International Airport in Houston, TX on Aug. 2. The Williams sisters will play doubles together at the Rio games. - photo by For The Times

Road to Rio

This week, The Times has featured series of stories about Chestatee High graduate Jenny Arthur and her journey to compete in the Summer Olympics. Weightlifting events open Saturday.

Chestatee High graduate Jenny Arthur put years of work into realizing Olympic dream

Jenny Arthur 'still learning' as she prepares for weightlifting's largest stage

Jenny Arthur's family members have eyes on their Olympian

The anticipation of Jenny Arthur’s Olympic debut as a member of the United States weightlifting team keeps building by the day, as coverage for the Opening Ceremonies air on NBC at 7:30 p.m Friday.

Family members and local supporters of the 2012 Chestatee High graduate are making sure they have the best seat in the house for when Arthur takes that first rep on the world’s biggest stage in Rio de Janeiro in search of an Olympic medal.

It’s no surprise that Jenny’s entire family comprised of father Kelly Sr., mother Freda, her seven siblings, and extended family spread over five states — South Carolina, New Jersey, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia — will be glued to their television screens. Atlanta’s NBC affiliate will join the Arthur family with a live broadcast from older sister Jill McNair’s residence in Kennesaw on Aug. 12.

Kelly may want to serve pancakes and orange juice, as the viewing party changed to Friday morning to coincide with the broadcast.

“We were gonna have finger foods and drinks and what-not. But now it looks like we may just have to have breakfast or something,” Kelly Sr. laughed

Plans were originally made under the assumption that Jenny would lift at 7-8 p.m. local time. Kelly expects around 30 people, which includes some family from South Carolina, to be piled into Jill’s living room that Friday.

“Now I’m gonna have to get back with them and say ‘Hey this is gonna be 9 o’clock in the morning, Friday morning,’” Kelly said as he laughed. “So it may change a little bit now.”

Chestatee High School has yet to confirm a concrete plan for watching Jenny compete according to principal Suzanne Jarrard. Upon her return, the school wants to dedicate a football game to Jenny one week during the regular season, in which Chestatee’s 235-member band will play the Olympic theme song.

“We will certainly support her,” Jarrard said.

Heather Chandler, a Chestatee Academy teacher and family friend, can hardly contain her excitement for Jenny, to the point where she gets chills and almost cries.

“It’s one of those stories you would see on ESPN,” Chandler said of Arthur’s life journey. “You see somebody want something, and she never gave up until she got it, and I cannot wait to talk to my students about the fact that this is someone who sat in your desk, and is now representing the United States in the Olympics.”

Chandler intends to pay close attention to Jenny’s progress in Rio, even if it means incorporating it into her daily lessons at school.

“If it’s at night, they’ll definitely not have homework that night so they can watch her,” Chandler laughed. “The Olympics are huge anyway, and to have somebody who sat and walked the halls she’s walked is just amazing.”

Stan Luttrell, the Buford High strength & conditioning coach and former head football coach at Chestatee High, said the Wolves’ pre-game festivities include watching Arthur compete on the computer screen at the high school before their scheduled team scrimmage with Tucker next Friday. He will be joined by several coaches and students from his weightlifting class.

Luttrell began coaching Arthur her sophomore year of high school at Chestatee. Arthur, also a former softball and track athlete at Chestatee, held off going to college and moved to Colorado Springs, Colo. to train with Team USA.

Arthur finally realized her full potential as a weightlifter after competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials in March 2012.
she paid a visit to Buford high last Christmas for a brief weightlifting session according to Luttrell.

“We believe that’s she’s very inspirational, especially to the young ladies in North Georgia,” Luttrell said. “You know, here’s a lady who started as a sophomore in the sport of weightlifting, who’s now an Olympian. So you know, besides that inspiration, we’re all gonna be glued to our computers and cheering for her. I know she’s going to do well.”

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