An Olympic occasion
Dreams, goals, character and nutrition were topics of four-time US Olympic triathlon athlete Hunter Kemper’s visit to Webster City on Friday.
Kemper was hosted by Murray McMurray Hatchery, one of his corporate partners.
The 37-year old four time-Olympian and seven-time US Elite Triathlon athlete spoke to two groups of Webster City Middle School students Friday on how he became an Olympic athlete.
The Longwood, FL native began his journey when he was only ten years old in 1986. He competed in the National Championships at Bush Garden and took first place in his age division.
He went on to win four national titles that year which earned him photo recognition in Sports Illustrated magazine.
“I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life,” he told the Webster City students.
Kemper said he identified his dream, set a goal and then developed a plan to make that dream happen.
His first step – he wrote it down on paper.
“Write down your goals to help you accomplish it and visualize it,” he said. “All goals are dreams, written down”.
After graduation from Wake Forest University, Kemper began competing professionally. His first professional triathlon event was in 1998.
A triathlon is comprised of three events. The standard international distance is 1.5K swimming, 40K biking and 10K running.
In 1999, he earned his first Silver medal at the Pan American Games. He returned to the Pan Am Games held in Santo Domingo in 2003 and captured the Gold.
Kemper’s Gold medal that year was the first United States’ Gold medal in the triathlon.
In 2000, he participated in his first US Olympics in Sydney, Australia which was memorable because sonar had to be used to clear the sharks from the harbor before the swimming leg of the event could begin, he said.
In 2005, Kemper earned the distinction of being the first United States triathlete to finish the season ranked as number one.
In that same year he was named the United States Olympic Committee’s Sportsman of the Year and he was awarded the Jim Thorpe All-Around Award.
During his career, he has also earned the US Elite Triathlon Championship seven times.
It was in 2007 that he made his first of four appearances on the Wheaties cereal box. He was the first triathlete to appear on the iconic orange box.
In addition, Hunter is one of two men who have competed in four Olympics and he is the only man in the world to finish all four Olympic games: 2000 – Sydney, Australia, 17th place; 2004 – Athens, 9th place: 2008 Beijing, 7th place; and 2012 – London, 14th place.
Now living in Colorado with his wife and four children, Kemper is in training to qualify for the Rio de Janerio Olympics in 2016. If he earns a spot on the US team, he will become the only man in the world to compete in five Olympic games.
Kemper shared his formula for success with the middle school students.
“To chase my goals as an athlete, I had to become more organized,” he said. In addition to writing down his goals, he also developed a process on how he would attain those goals.
“One step in the process was to get up for practice each and everyday,” he said.
The other step was to eat healthier.
“I used to eat junk food,” he admitted, asking the students if they had ever heard of Krispy Kreme donuts, Double Stuf Oreos or mushroom and cheese pizzas – some of his favorite foods.
Now, he focuses on foods that will make him a better, healthier athlete.
“Better nutrition helps you run faster, bike faster and swim faster,” he said.
Teaming up with Murray McMurray Hatchery was a perfect match, said Kemper.
“Eggs are organic and fresh eggs are a great source of protein which is necessary when you work out hard,” he explained. “Protein gives your body and muscles a chance to recover”.
Fittingly, the partnership between Kemper and Murray McMurray Hatchery of Webster City was the result of Chris Huseman’s health.
A couple of years ago, Huseman, the Director of Marketing at Murray McMurray Hatchery, decided he needed to get healthier and lose weight. His plan was to train and compete in a triathlon.
Eventually, Huseman’s daughter Emily joined him and both competed in the Hy-Vee Labor Day 2013 Triathlon in Quincy, IL.
“I used to go to my dad’s races and got to see the excitement,” said Emily, who competed in the Hy-Vee Iron Kids 11 year old, female division. “I thought it was cool to cross the finish line”.
HyVee grocery stores sponsor the Iron Kids Triathlon races and Kemper is the youth spokesman for the events, explained Chris Huseman. It was at this event that Huseman and Kemper became acquainted.
Murray McMurray Hatchery was looking for a way to promote its products and after researching Hunter Kemper, the hatchery and the athlete decided to team up, said Huseman.
“We researched Hunter and liked what we saw,” said Huseman. “His values matched closely with our values. As a corporate sponsor, we wanted to have a person with good character similar to traits of Murray McMurray Hatchery. Hunter has a good, sound character and is truly an inspiration”.
In his speech to middle school students, Kemper highlighted good character traits for students to attain.
“It isn’t enough to dream or be healthy,” he told the students. “You also have to have good character”.
Those traits include being caring, polite, trustworthy, respectful and responsible, he said.
“Good leaders all show those traits,” he said.
As for his connection with Murray McMurray Hatchery, Kemper is not only a partner, he is a customer. The Kemper family recently received five breeds of laying hens and the family is looking forward to eating home-fresh eggs, he said.
The varieties chosen by the Kempers include the Ancona, Rhode Island Red, Pearl-White Leghorn, Buff Orpington and Black Star.
The public is invited to watch the Kemper family as their poultry adventure unfolds at murraymcmurrayhatchery.com.