The new year brought a glimmer of hope and pride however, this time in the form of a petite 16-year-old girl.
A New Yorker, Sarah Hughes stunned the sports world with her upset victory in winning an Olympic gold metal this past February in the Salt Lake City games.
The figure skater, still completing her junior year of high school in Great Neck on Long Island, has accepted her win and new found fame with grace and modesty.
Last week, Hughes was honored with a massive parade through her hometown, where cheers and tears of the young and old flowed freely.
Shortly after the parade, Hughes was ushered into an auditorium for an interview with some unlikely questions.
Q: Do you have a date for the prom?
A: (She blushes) “No, I don’t have a date yet.” (According to reports, her male classmates have lined up to ask for the honor).
Q: How did you deal with your star-struck classmates on the first day back at school?
A: “I think they might enjoy it more than I do. I just wanted to come back to school and try to get back into the thick of things. Everyone was like, ‘Oh my gosh, its Sarah!’ It was a little overwhelming.”
Q: You are a role model to many young people. Your advice?
A: “I would say just keep your mind and options open. I followed my heart, and had to open my mind and listen to advice from more experienced people.”
Q: How did Sept. 11 effect your Olympic performance?
A: “It was so much sweeter. We all came together on a bright note. It was great.”
Q: Where does an Olympic gold medalist go from here?
A: “I would like to continue skating and upping my technical difficulty-keep building on it. I will keep competing while I enjoy it. I also want to do well on the SAT’s!”
Q: How would you rate your [Olympic] performance?
A: “Pure joy. There were so many great things about that night. It just felt like it was supposed to be.”
Q: You have a younger sister, also a skater, who has her eye on the 2006 games. Any comment?
A: “That would be awesome. I invited her (Sarah smiles with a gibe).”
Q: How does all this attention make you feel?
A: “People have been so kind and generous. I do remember the reason people recognize me. That is because I was able to share with them one of the greatest moments of my life.”