Dee Dee Trotter tweets photo of her and Aries Merritt just before entering Olympic Stadium for Opening Ceremonies in London, Friday, July 27, 2012.
Aries Merritt's mother (center), aunt and uncle watching Opening Ceremonies on TV in Mableton, Friday, July 27, 2012.
MABLETON, Ga. -- "This is his time to shine."
Those were the words of a beaming mother in Mableton, Friday night, watching her son, Hurdler Aries Merritt, on television as he entered the Olympic Stadium in London with Team USA during Opening Ceremonies.
"We're just so excited that he made it" to the Olympics, Merritt's mom, Linda Hubbard said. "He's going to accomplish his goal."
Merritt's lifelong goal has always been to compete in the Olympics, and at 27 years old -- his birthday was this past Tuesday, July 24 -- Merritt has a shot at a world record, and a gold medal, in the 110 Meter hurdles.
"I've always told him, 'No matter what, you can do this, you're the little engine that can,'" Hubbard said, "'you're going up the hill and you can make it. You can keep on, keep on.'"
Aries Merritt was a track star at Wheeler High School in Cobb County, along with another future Olympian, Reggie Witherspoon.
They were both Wheeler Class of '03, running for Track Coach Greg Mitchell, who is still Wheeler's track coach.
Witherspoon went on to win gold in Beijing in 2008, in the 4X400 relay.
Merritt went on to run at the University of Tennessee, and finally, this summer, he earned a spot on the 2012 U.S. track team by coming in first in the 110 Meter hurdles in the trials, with a time of 12.93 seconds.
At the family's home in Mableton Friday night, Merritt's mother and his sister, along with other family members, and family friends, and Coach Mitchell, cheered as they watched Team USA enter the Olympic Stadium.
Then they screamed and pointed at the TV when they spotted Merritt among them.
His mother said she and the rest of the family have encouraged and supported his love of running since he was a child.
"I said, 'You have that gift, natural gift, of speed, and you can do it. You've got to believe in yourself that, "I can accomplish this." God gave you the gift. So embrace it, and you can go forward, you can really go fast.'"
Hubbard started to say that her son is simply happy to have earned a spot on the U.S. Olympics team, "no matter what happens" in the actual competition. Then she broke into a big smile, and she and everyone else in the room began to laugh with anticipation and hope -- "I know what's going to happen, he's going to bring home the gold!" she said. And everyone cheered again. "He's going to bring home the gold. This is his time to shine, you know?"
Members of the family will leave for London in a few days to watch Merritt -- in person, not on TV -- run for the gold when his competition begins on August 7.