Houston native competes as speed skater in Sochi Winter Olympics

Jonathan Garcia of Houston raced in Sochi today with friends and family cheering him on from southeast Texas
February 12, 2014 2:58:33 PM PST
It was a big day for Katy speed skater Jonathan Garcia, who competed Wednesday in the Winter Olympic games. Relatives of the Winter Olympian held a watch party for him Wednesday morning in southwest Houston.

Garcia competed in the 1,000-meter race in Sochi on Wednesday and had a time of 1:10:7 in heat 7. And while he failed to medal, he still made his family proud.

He's the face of an Olympian, a fierce competitor, and he's got a bunch of fans in the Houston area.

"I would say frantic energy," fan Leslie Sanders said.

"How many people know an Olympian, you know? It's cool," Garcia's aunt, Brenda Blackwood, said.

And a Winter Olympian in Houston? It's even more unusual. But it was clear outside this Braeswood Place home on Wednesday something very special was going on inside.

"This has been his goal and this is a really big accomplishment for him, and we are so thrilled for him," Garcia's stepsister Kit Paschall said.

At 8am Wednesday -- 6pm Sochi time -- Garcia took to the ice in the men's 1,000 meters long track skate for Team USA.

"He is so dedicated and so professional, he's Americana. He's what anybody can do if they try long enough. I'm starting to tear up, sorry," fan Suzanne Saur said.

"He's very philosophical. He said it's about the journey," Blackwood said.

And that journey started as a child first on hardwood and pavement with inline skates. The Katy Taylor graduate made the transition to ice a few years ago and moved to Salt Lake City as part of the United States Olympic Committee's Wheels to Ice program.

"It started during the A&M-Duke game when he qualified, and it's been building to a crescendo since then," Sanders said.

Garcia had one shot to medal but with ten-thousandths of seconds separating every skater, it's tough. He finished in 28th place during Wednesday's race, but he's Number One with his fans, and they'll be anxious to see if they should plan another watch party in four more years.

"I'm sure there's another race left in him. It will be interesting to see what he says when he comes home," Blackwood said.

Dutch skaters took gold and bronze. A Canadian won the silver.

Full coverage of the race on ESPN.com

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