Local athletes say having the Olympic Games in Los Angeles could bring the nation together and inspire the next generation of U.S. Olympians.
“It’s one thing for the Olympics to be going on across the world; everyone is watching, and you’re proud that someone is representing your country. But something about a home field advantage," said Alex Elkins, a member of the U.S. rugby team.
He's been training at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
LA put forward a "no risk bid" for the right to host the 2024 Summer Games, Mayor Eric Garcetti told NBC News. The city is competing against Paris, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) seeking a deal between the two candidate cities.
Elkins is excited about the possibility of the Games being held in the U.S. again.
"Being so close to something at such a high caliber level can really strike passion in anybody," said Elkins.
Having the Olympic Games in the U.S. during 1996 encouraged Elkins as a young kid to become an Olympian. Now he is a professional rugby player training for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Elkins was five years old during the Atlanta Games, when he watched Michael Johnson break the 200 and 400-meter Olympic record. It was not until that moment, Elkins felt connected to something much bigger than himself and a passion started to grow. From then on, he wanted to be an Olympian and strive to be the best.
Elkins believes having the Olympics in LA will encourage other young people to strive to be an Olympian.
“It is the next generation that is going to be watching the Games, hopefully seeing me on the field, and saying ‘That’s what I want to do,'" said Elkins.
Alise Post, a silver medalist in Bicycle Motocross (BMX) racer for the 2016 Rio Games who lives in Chula Vista, would love to see the Olympics come back to LA, not only to put the spotlight back on the Olympics and all the amazing U.S. athletes but also because BMX originated in Southern California.
Elkins was originally planning on retiring after the 2020 Games. However, after getting word of the Games possibly being in LA, he decided four more years was doable, especially if it meant being able to compete in the Olympics on home turf.
Post feels similarly about aiming for 2024.
“It would be a pretty big stretch for me to compete in BMX then. But if it is in LA, it would be worth fighting to be a part of. We will just have to see how age and injury hold up,” said Post.
When the Olympics were held in LA in 1984, the LA84 Foundation was formed. It has introduced millions of children to Olympic and Paralympic sports over the last 30 years, trained 75,000 coaches and invested $225 million in 2,200 community-based youth sports programs.
LA and Paris must reach an agreement with the IOC that will determine which city gets 2024 and which gets 2028. For older athletes, this could be their last chance to compete in Olympic Games hosted in the U.S.