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Athletes of the Week: Native Youth Olympics’ Eden Hopson and Colton Paul

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 3:55 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - While everyone is a winner at the Native Youth Olympics by helping sustain culture and tradition, Eden Hopson of the Anchorage A team and Colton Paul from Kipnuk competing for Mt. Edgecumbe High School stole the show.

Paul finished in the top five in six different events, and he took first place in the Alaskan High Kick, One Foot High Kick and Scissor Broad Jump.

Hopson finished in the top five in four different events, and she took first in the Alaskan High Kick and One-Hand Reach.

This is the first time since 2019 that the Senior Native Youth Olympics were held in person, after being held virtually in individual communities the past two years due to the pandemic. Both Hopson and Paul acknowledged that the crowd makes a difference in their performances.

“I love it. You get to see everyone compete with everyone in person, you get that ... atmosphere,” Hopson said.

“I feel fired up, like being at state and having every team here, it fires me up and gets me hype,” Paul said.

Paul didn’t leave much doubt that he could kick the highest in the One Foot High Kick, hitting 110 inches with the next closest being 106 inches. Before going for his winning kick, he got the crowd going with a slow clap that left everyone with goosebumps who was there to witness it, but it was a different moment from the weekend that gave Paul goosebumps.

“Being at Edgecume, it’s like you’re away for a very long time, and it sucks and you get homesick and you just want to see your family,” Paul said. “My family actually surprised me while I was in the hotel.”

It isn’t often that an athlete performs their best at the biggest moment, but when it does happen, it is something beautiful to watch. Hopson said that kicking 56 inches in the Alaskan High Kick set a new personal best for her, and she even hit 58 inches but failed to land.

It was the same story for Paul, who tied his personal best in the Alaskan High kick at 90 inches and was as close as you can possibly get to kicking 92 inches.

Hopson, a senior, ended her high school NYO career in style, but it won’t be the last time people see her doing the games. She is an avid competitor in the World Indian Eskimo Olympics that take place this year July 12-16 in the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks.

As for Paul, he is just a junior at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, so fans will be seeing him again next year at the games where he will try set some new personal bests and break some long standing NYO records.

To see all of the results from all of the events at the 2022 Native Youth Olympic games, visit their website.

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