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Triathlete to watch in summer Olympics

Posted: July 21 2021 at 08:43 AM
Mcdowell World Triathlon

Kevin McDowell competing in the world triathlon. McDowell is now a seven-time World Triathlon Cup medalist and recently celebrated 10 years cancer-free. Photo Credit: Janos Schmidt

Update 7/26: First-time U.S. Olympian Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) made history at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men's triathlon event on July 26 in Tokyo, earning the highest-ever finish by a U.S. man at the Olympic Games in sixth place.

Be sure to tune into the Olympic Games in Tokyo to watch and cheer on local Olympian and United Methodist Kevin McDowell as he competes in the Triathlon events.

McDowell, who turns 29 on August 1 and is from Geneva, Ill., started attending Flowing Forth UMC in Aurora (formerly Flowing Grace UMC) when he was in high school, according to his former pastor and Prairie Central District Superintendent Rev. Jeffry Bross.

"He came on his own to church as a high school kid and at the time was the number one rated triathlete in the world," said Bross. "He was faithful and went around telling his story about faith and God's work in his life.  His family followed him and started coming to Flowing Forth, so he evangelized." The McDowell family later moved to Colorado where Kevin attended college and currently trains, but Bross says Kevin often visits when he's back home.

A cancer diagnosis ten years ago nearly sidelined the triathlete, who has won numerous medals and was named USA Triathlon Junior Athlete of the Year in 2009 and 2010. 

"I remember asking the doctors 'am I going to live and what's the prognosis?'" McDowell shared in a video feature of Tokyo Athletes. "When I learned it was Hodgkin's lymphoma, we had a little celebration because it's one of the most curable cancers." 

Despite the difficult chemotherapy treatments that were taking a toll on his body, McDowell fought back and continued to train with support from his family, church connections, and a cancer charity called Cal's Angels, which grants wishes, raises awareness, and funds research to help kids fighting cancer.  McDowell is now a seven-time World Triathlon Cup medalist.

Mcdowell

Photo credit: World Triathlon

His Olympic dream that he's had since age 11 finally came true when he was selected by USA Triathlon to compete in this summer's games.

"Tears came down instantly. I was shaking and it was a wave of emotion," McDowell said in the feature about the call to be on the team. "The goal is not just to go to the Olympic games, but to truly compete and be in the running for the highest position individually. But I think we also have a special opportunity with the mixed team relay. We are going there with our eyes set on gold."

Bross said McDowell will be one to watch as he's in medal contention. "He's a cancer survivor but more than that he's a believer," said Bross. "He's an amazing young man and I'm excited to see him bring home the gold!"

The men's individual race is July 25 at 4:30 CST (Event date/time in Tokyo is Monday, July 26 at 6:30 am) and the mixed relay is July 30 at 5:30 p.m. CST (Event date/time in Tokyo is Saturday, July 31: 7:30 am). Read more on McDowell's story.

Direct link to men’s triathlon livestream at NBCOlympics.com

Direct link to mixed relay livestream at NBCOlympics.com

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