With banner, posters and pennants waving, about 100 children welcomed Olympic archer Denise Parker to the Kinder-Care Junior Olympics at Fairmont Park earlier this week.
The youngsters listened intently as Parker, a ninth-grade student at Bingham Middle School, told them how she became interested in archery as a sport. "About four years ago someone asked my dad if he wanted to go bow hunting, and, he said, `Sure, why not,' " Parker explained. "So he went out and bought us all some equipment."Parker said it then became a family sport, and after a few lessons they began entering tournaments. "It really upset me when a young boy beat me at my first tournament," she said.
Determined not to lose again, Parker, 10 at the time, said she started putting in long hours of practice.
The hard work has paid off, though, as Parker told the children she leaves for Seoul, Korea, Sept. 8 to compete in the Summer Olympic Games.
When asked by one of the young students if she was scared, Parker said, "I'm kind of nervous, but I think I can do it."
As Parker concluded her address, 100 voices shouted in unison, "Good Luck, Denise."
"I'd like to be just like her," said 7-year-old Brina Stump, one of Parker's awe-struck admirers, many of whom asked for the archer's autograph.
The children also joined with Parker to participate in a variety of Junior Olympic activities including an obstacle course, a paper leap-frog contest, tug-of-war on a slip-n-slide, water balloon toss and several races.
The Deseret News has established a Denise Parker fund to help defray the costs of sending her parents and her trainer to the Olympics. Contributions can be made to the Denise Parker Olympic Fund, C/O Key Bank of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84189-0021.