Mississippi city sends off Olympics athletes with parade

Published 5:22 am Tuesday, July 20, 2021

For the first time in history, the City of Oxford has two of its own competing in the Olympics and they were sent off to Tokyo in style.

On Friday, the city held an Olympic send-off parade for Sam Kendricks and Shelby McEwen before they left for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, which begin this weekend.

The Oxford natives were loaded up into two vehicles, driven by Aldermen Kesha Howell-Atkinson and Mark Heulse, near 14th Street and road down North Lamar Boulevard towards the Downtown Square. The route included two laps around the Lafayette County Courthouse and then back up North Lamar Boulevard.

The street was lined with supporters waiving American flags and homemade banners, supporting the two former Oxford High School standouts.

For McEwen, who is also spent time in the Lafayette County School District, getting the opportunity to represent his home in what is his first Olympics has not fully sunken in yet.

“It means a lot just to get to represent my hometown, both Oxford and Lafayette County,” McEwen said prior to the parade. “Putting on for my hometown and my family and friends that’s watching. It feels amazing.”

Competing in Tokyo later this month will mark the second-straight Olympics for Kendricks, who took home the bronze medal in the men’s pole vault during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Ahead of loading up for the parade, Kendricks touched on the ability to stay in his hometown to continue his career beyond high school and college.

“I got real lucky,” Kendricks said. “I didn’t have to go everywhere to find what I needed. I could do it right here and that was real special to me and being from this town with, population: one professional pole vaulter and now one professional high jumper, which is great.”