State Lawmakers Cheer Flint Gold Medalist Claressa Shields

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email
Jordyn Wieber isn

The Michigan Capitol is shown at twilight Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009, in Lansing, Mich. Lawmakers continue work on budget bills that deal with a $2.8 billion shortfall before an Oct. 1 deadline. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Jordyn Wieber isn't the only Michigan athlete coming home from the Olympic games with a gold medal. Champion boxer Claressa Shields of Flint caused quite a stir when she stopped by the State Capitol with her shiny new accessory Wednesday.

At just 17-years-old, Shields is taking her new found fame in stride but says it's a little wierd. She has had a non-stop week of appearances, interviews and photo after photo, even her friends are asking for autographs.

Michigan's House of Representatives also has Olympic fever. It took a break from it's usual order to welcome Shields with chants and cheers.

"It was spontaneous, it wasn't something that was orchestrated," State Rep. Woodrow Stanley, D-Flint explained. "Everyone wanted to take a picture, wanted to shake her hand, wanted to congratulate her."

Awestruck by boxing's first ever female gold medalist, lawmakers couldn't get enough of Shields. The teen is still a bit surprised by the stir, but says she's thankful people recognize how she worked and sacrificed to get here.

"I put all my life into boxing, so I could change my surroundings and change people around me, so I'm glad that it's actually working," Shields said.

The junior at Flint's Northwestern High will be going back to school soon, but first she's looking forward to some downtime and the chance to savor her Olympic moments.

"I've been waiting for this for so long," she explained, recalling the medal ceremony. "I was just overjoyed, I couldn't contain myself, I was laughing."

Her success has been an inspiration for many in Michigan.

"We know there are a lot of challenges for young people in Flint right now but we are looking at a young lady who has risen about the challenges and made goals in her life," Sharon Saddler of Flint said.

"That is a story that isn't just about Flint, it's about an American story," Stanley added.

A story, where one girl, with one dream, found her golden conclusion.

"The greatest thing for me was just to come home honestly," Shields said. "To get off the plane and see all my friends and family."

With Shields being so young, many are wondering will she try for the next Olympics. She says it's too early to think about that right now but she does have a lot of options. Endorsement offers and opportunites to go professional are pouring in. Shields says she wants to take her time and make the right decision.

The teen was the only member of the 12-person U.S. boxing team to win gold in London.


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