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With complicated turn of events in mixed 4x400m relay, Elija Godwin's family watch Olympian's dreams come true

Godwin's mom, Ginger, talked to him after the race and said he was always positive.

TOKYO, Japan — Five hours seemed like forever for one Olympian's family on Friday.

Elija Godwin's family experienced the thrill of seeing him reach a dream to their hearts sinking from devastation that it could possibly be taken away.

The UGA sprinter made his debut at Tokyo 2020 and his family held a watch party at home.  No one one expected what would unfold - especially with keeping in mind how far Godwin has come to make it to this moment.

Just two years ago, a javelin went through his body and his lung. No one knew if he would be OK -  let alone ever run again.  

As his body lost oxygen, his heart rate dropped and he coughed up droplets of blood. Godwin thought it was the end -- he started praying. For him, an eternity went by. Lying on the gurney, he reassured his mom he was going to be OK. He was right. 

Credit: WXIA
Ginger and Elija Godwin at the hospital after Elija survived a freak accident during track practice.

Fast forward to now, his dreams have come true. 

"He always talked about how he wanted to go to the Olympics," his brother Okon Godwin said. 

And the watch party commenced. The family got up before the sun to see him race. 

“We are not there but we are there in spirit," his mom, Ginger said.

Credit: WXIA

Godwin, who was born in Covington, Georgia, competed in the mixed 4x400-meter relay Friday.  Just seeing him for the first time on the Olympic track felt like a win all of its own.  

Team USA was indeed strong during the race. But as quickly as the celebration started, it stopped. They seemingly glided to first in heat one of their 4x400-meter mixed relay event, posting one of the best qualifying times. But when results hit the board, they heard devastating news: the Americans didn't win the heat, they were disqualified.

Credit: AP
Elija Godwin celebrates after winnihg the third heat of the men's 400-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Friday, June 18, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

During the track and field event, when it was time for Godwin to pass the baton from the first leg of the race to Lynna Irby for the second leg, Irby's placement was "outside" of the zone allowed for the handoff. 

But Irby was where officials placed her. An appeal  led to reinstatement. Their chance for gold was resurrected.  

Godwin's mom talked to him after the race and said he was always positive.

"As a mom, he's an inspiration to me," she said. 

It's a family gathering they will never forget. 


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