EDMOND — There was no single reason why Edmond Santa Fe senior Gunnar Nixon started to participate in track and field.
He wasn't inspired by watching the Summer Olympics or anything like that. He was simply just looking to compete in another sport.
Little did he know it could lead to the opportunity that he has this month. Nixon will be representing Team USA in the high jump at the first Youth Olympic Games this month in Singapore.
"It's amazing. I'm really excited about it," Nixon said. "This has just been an incredible summer.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm going to get a chance to get to know kids from all over the world."
Nixon leaves Monday and will be in Singapore for three weeks. The actual competition dates for the Games are Aug. 14-26. His flight to New York is paid for by the U.S. Olympic Committee, while the International Olympic Committee is taking care of everything else.
Nixon's already spent time in Puerto Rico, Iowa and Kansas for meets this summer.
Nixon started competing in track and field in fifth grade, but it wasn't until eighth grade that things really started to click for him.
"In seventh grade, I won something like one race," Nixon said. "I spent the entire time after that working, just working nonstop."
Though Singapore is nowhere like he's ever been before, Nixon is well-traveled. Born in Weatherford, he's spent time in Ada, Blanchard and Tulsa before moving to Edmond after his freshman year.
It's in Edmond where he's found the coaches to take him to that next step. Head coach Carl Hawkins has helped Nixon and the rest of the Wolves immensely, but it's been LaMar Garrett who has catapulted Nixon to this spot.
Garrett, a Santa Fe and Kansas State graduate, has been the one helping Nixon learn everything there is to the long jump and high jump.
"I used to just run as fast as I could and then jumped," Nixon said. "He's really helped when it comes to technique and helping me understand why something is done."
Nixon made national news this year when he posted the second-highest decathlon score in high school history in April in California.
"He's such an inspiration," Santa Fe graduate Walter Henderson said. "He pushed me so much. You'd think you're working hard, but then you'd see Gunnar, and you'd know you could do more."
Henderson will attend Arkansas, and he credits Nixon for being a big reason that he is getting that opportunity.
Nixon isn't the lone Oklahoma being represented in the Youth Olympic Games. Edmond Memorial volleyball star Micha Hancock and Pawhuska's Sarah Tolson will also be participating. Tolson will be in the discus throw. Norman's Jessica Beed also qualified for weightlifting.