JOHNSON CITY – LaDarren Landrum is one of the eight winners of NBC’s “Next Olympic Hopeful,” a talent identification program that invites athletes across the country to compete for a chance to join Team USA at the Olympic Games.
Landrum is originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina, but trained at East Tennessee State University before the “Next Olympic Hopeful” competition with Dr. Brad DeWeese, an associate professor in the Clemmer College, as well as a training coach who helps athletes prepare for the Olympic Games. Landrum had only participated in a few events at ETSU, but DeWeese said Landrum had potential.
“For me, Brad DeWeese was pretty much the first coach who ever believed in me,” said Landrum.
Landrum’s journey began during a “Next Olympic Hopeful” open tryout event hosted by ETSU’s Olympic Training Site this May. Similar events were held across the United States, and 90 athletes with the most impressive abilities were chosen to compete in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The competition consisted of three days of training and two days of traveling. Last year, athletes were able to choose the sports to train for, but this year it was the decision of the coach. Based on events each athlete participated in during the first two training days, the national governing bodies of the Olympic Training Center chose specific athletes to work within a certain sport, such as bobsled, boxing, canoe/kayak, cycling, rowing, rugby, skeleton and weightlifting. This season of “Next Olympic Hopeful” ended on Nov. 25, when Landrum was selected as the rowing winner.
“If I’m being honest, I really didn’t go with any specific sport in mind. I went to win,” said Landrum when asked if rowing was the sport he expected.
Landrum is continuing to train at ETSU with DeWeese so that he can pursue a career
in rowing and eventually join the National Men’s Rowing Team after completing the
developmental stages of the sport.
By Brandi Vespie,
ETSU Student Writer