Fort Benning local wins gold medals in Junior Olympics

Runners from all over the U.S. competed in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races. Jonathan Myrthil took first in both races.

Runners from all over the U.S. competed in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races. Jonathan Myrthil took first in both races.

By Gerald Williams, Bayonet & Saber /

Fort Benning local won two gold medals in track and field in the Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas, Jul. 30-Aug. 6.

Jonathan Myrthil, a Fort Benning resident, age 15, won the gold medal in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races.

Jonathan Myrthil, a competitor in the Junior Olympic games, stands proudly with his two gold medals that he won in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races.

Jonathan Myrthil, a competitor in the Junior Olympic games, stands proudly with his two gold medals that he won in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races.

According to Myrthil, for the 1500-meter run, he completed it in 4 minutes and 11 seconds. For the 800-meter race he finished it in 1 minute and 55 seconds.

“I was six seconds away from breaking the record for my age group,” added Myrthil.

Leeann Hannan, Myrthil’s mother and passionate supporter, recalled the obstacles before the race.

“His ankle was messed up at the time from all the training he was doing,” said Hannan. “I just told him to do his best and get eighth place if he could. That’s a medal. Then he won and it completely shocked me. I knew what he could do, but I also knew he was hurt. I couldn’t believe it, so much I started crying.”
Myrthil also stated that it wasn’t just the physical challenge he was trying to overcome during the race, it was an environmental challenge too.

“In the stadium, it was 115 degrees with no breeze,” said Myrthil. “There were a few people who passed out because of the heat. It was really challenging.”

“I complain about Georgia, but compared to the heat we experienced it was nothing,” laughed Hannan.
Myrthil stated that his determination and training helped him win the gold in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races.

According to Hannan, Myrthil’s Northside High School track coach, Coach Sanders, helped get him into the Junior Olympics.

“When he began running in track, we began seeing him improve over each race. He was 50th in the nation then 20th in the nation. Then he started getting first place in races which led his coach to suggest Myrthil go to the Junior Olympics since he was first in track and field as a freshman at his school.

“He had competed in regional events and was number one in track but he wanted to go national,” said Hannan. “Kids who have been training since six years old don’t even have the opportunity to go so it was a proud moment.”

“Being a military child, I have strict rules and I have to follow those rules. In the long run though, I have more determination in what I do because of the fact that I’ve been raised as a military child.”

Myrthil stated that he had tried other sports such as basketball and karate but that he felt more enthusiastic about cross country and track.

“With running, I can clear my head. It’s simple enough so that I can just focus on running toward my goal,” said Myrthil.

Myrthil wanted to show his appreciation to his middle school principal, Mr. Mood, his high school track coach, Coach Sanders, and his Amateur Athletic Union coaches, Coach Britain, Coach Fortune and Coach Green.

Hannan wanted to thank those who donated to and helped share their GoFundMe account online with others.

“I’m so proud of him,” said Hannan. “I see kids running around the neighborhood facing many problems, but Jonathan is so active that I don’t have to deal with that. He’s in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. He’ll join clubs from time to time to help them out, such as the chess club. They’ll call him sometimes if they need an extra person. I’m just so proud of him.”

Myrthil said that, in the future, he wants to be a mechanical engineer or a Japanese foreign language translator. He currently plans on attending Georgia Tech for his college career.

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