In and around the Vermont hometown of one member of Team USA, excitement is seemingly building every day, ahead of the start of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Annie Purrier, the mother of medium-distance runner Elle Purrier St. Pierre, who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics last month in track and field’s 1500 meter event.
The athlete’s mom described how moving it has been to witness a gold-medal performance from Team Vermont when it comes to community support.
“We get very teary-eyed, and if I’m not careful, I could do it now,” Purrier said in an interview Monday on the family’s dairy farm.
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Purrier told NECN & NBC10 Boston she has been just awestruck by all the lawn signs, the praise in the grocery store and post office, and notes coming in non-stop.
“I appreciate everything everybody does, and all the positive vibes that are coming from everybody,” the proud mother said.
At Montgomery’s recreation center, a hanging banner reads “Go, Elle, Go! Tokyo or bust: leave ‘em in the dust.”
The banner made its debut in the center of town for the Fourth of July parade, which featured an appearance by the dairy farmer-turned-Olympian herself.
Monday, the banner was reinstalled down the road at the rec center. Charlie Hancock, the chair of the Montgomery Select Board, said the aim is to keep the good energy going.
“It’s been a tough past year, I think, for everybody,” Hancock said. “So to have something like this to just celebrate and hold up and hope for—everybody’s really just wishing her the best of luck with the opportunity.”
Hancock said one of the reasons enthusiasm is so high is because Montgomery is so tight-knit, at just 1,200 residents.
“Everybody knows everybody, but it’s because everyone’s a family, right?” Hancock said. “And so it’s like whenever something happens to a member of your family that’s great and exciting, everybody wants to celebrate that and hold it up and rally around it, so that’s what’s happening here, I think.”
Over in West Swanton—which ice cream stand owner Amy Lamoureux says is part of “Elle Purrier Nation”—Devyn’s Creemee Stand is selling the “All American Elle.” It’s a hot fudge sundae with red, white, and blue sprinkles.
The sundae costs $3.58, matching the competitor’s blazing-fast Olympics qualifying time, and is raising money for a charity Purrier St. Pierre will choose, Lamoureux said.
“Everybody really is happy to see her going to the Olympics,” the ice cream seller said. “I think she’s going to do amazing. She’s going to come home with the gold!”
Those region-wide hugs, of sorts, are helping somewhat with disappointment. Purrier St. Pierre’s family can’t travel to Japan. No outside spectators can, because of COVID-19 safety rules.
“We’ve just come to terms with it,” Annie Purrier said, adding that it’ll be TV viewing only for her during the Games—just like the rest of us. “We’re making the most of a bad situation.
Annie Purrier would make no predictions on an outcome in the 1500 meter event, saying her superstitious side means she doesn’t want to risk jinxing anything.
“We’ll find out on the last race,” the athlete’s mom said.