Once In A Lifetime: Greenville gold medalist shares her story

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Winning a gold medal at the Olympics is something most athletes only dream of.

Greenville’s own Lauren Perdue was able to fulfill that dream in London back in 2012, although it’s something the Olympian will always be proud of.

The journey to get there is what the family will remember most.

Four years later, the family still fights back tears.

“It was just a miracle for us to see it happen in person,” said Dr. Phil Perdue, Lauren’s dad.

It’s a miracle that almost didn’t happen.

“I’d been going through a back injury the entire year before,” explained Lauren Perdue, Olympic gold medalist.

“She’d been out of the water for 5 weeks,” said Tammy Perdue, Lauren’s mom. “It was a ridiculously long amount of time.”

“Really, a week before Olympic trials, I was considering not even going,” said Lauren.

“Let me say it again, a ridiculous amount,” said Phil. “No one ever takes four days off of swimming.”

“So, so thankful that I decided to go,” said Lauren.

Because who knew she’d make it? Who knew she’d be able to represent her country on the world’s largest stage?

“Ever since I was, you know, 12,13, this was my goal in life, my dream,” said Lauren.

For every child’s dream, there’s a set of parents who just hope their kids can fulfil what they set out to do. Every parent wants their kids to do better than they did.

“She had a lot more talent than I ever had,” said Phil.

In 1980, Phil Perdue could’ve had a shot a one of these [Olympic medal]. When the U.S. boycotted the summer games that year, his chance was lost. But that’s exactly what makes Lauren’s experience so sweet.

“I was about 7th tenths off, uh, making the team,” said Phil.

So the moment wasn’t just for Lauren, it was for her father too.

“Her coach was also my coach at Virginia,” Phil explained. “And so, when we saw him that evening after she made the team, he said, ‘Phil, that her making the team was for you’.”

Lauren and her dad aren’t the only superstars. Everyone in the family can swim. Her sister did it with her at Virginia. And her brother is now on the team at UNC.

“I think it’s just formed an amazing bond between all of us,” said Lauren.

For the team, life isn’t just about the sport. It’s about what you learn while doing it.

“Take those lessons that you get from the sport and, hopefully, move on to something else in your life,” said Tammy.

Lauren’s Olympic experience was really a once in a lifetime opportunity. The gold medalist had to hang up her swimsuit due to injuries.

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