TOKYO, Japan — Editor's note: Video at the top of this story was originally posted before Ludwig competed.
“What a 34 hours it has been.”
Matt Ludwig of Chardon has been on quite the ride. The pole vault alternate for Team USA got an unexpected call Wednesday night to pack his bags and fly to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics after Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19.
Before sunrise Thursday, he was at the airport with his gear awaiting to board a plane. Then, not long after arriving in Tokyo, he found himself competing stage in his first Olympic Games on Friday night (EST).
His journey was cut short, however, after Ludwig missed qualify for the next round. Although it wasn’t the outcome he was hoping for, Ludwig went to Instagram to express how excited he was for the opportunity.
“I recognize with pride and gratitude what it means to compete for Team USA,” he wrote. “My aim is only upwards from this point on. Words cannot express my gratitude for my support staff, friends, family, USOPC representatives, and YOU, for reading this post (: you’ve all played a role in my Journey To Tokyo, and for that, thank you!”
Ludwig, who attended Lake Catholic High School, is also a graduate of the University of Akron.
3News caught up with Ludwig at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport shortly before departing on his flight to Tokyo where he told us competing in the Olympics has been a lifelong dream.
"It certainly hasn’t settled in yet," Ludwig told 3News. "We’ll see. It will get there, I’m sure I’ll process it at some point. I had entire lifelong goals to get to this point. It's a bit of a strange route to get here, but I’m just as excited and I don’t want to waste the opportunity.”
What a ride, indeed.