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Local connection: American luger, medalist has relatives here

Erin Hamlin of the United States waves the flag after finishing her final run to win the bronze medal. / AP photo

Erin Hamlin of the United States waves the flag after finishing her final run to win the bronze medal. / AP photo

By CATHY DYSON

Erin Hamlin became the first American, male or female, to win an individual medal in the perilous sport of luge—and about 50 people gathered at a Spotsylvania County business Tuesday to watch her slide into a bronze-medal finish.

In the center of the crowd was her aunt, Mary Beth Roberts, who bit her bottom lip and clasped her hands in nervousness as Hamlin’s runs approached.

Then, when Hamlin finished her last trek down the ice—going faster than 80 miles per hour—she was on top of the standings with only two German racers left to go. Roberts knew her niece would make it to the Olympic podium.

Mary Beth Roberts watches her niece, Erin Hamlin, win the bronze medal in the women's luge competition in Sochi. Erin became the first American to win an individual Olympic medal in luge. / Photo by Reza Marvashti

Mary Beth Roberts watches her niece, Erin Hamlin, win the bronze medal in the women’s luge competition in Sochi. Erin became the first American to win an individual Olympic medal in luge. / Photo by Reza Marvashti

“This really has been her dream,” said Roberts, vice president of human resources and security at SimVentions, a defense contractor off Tidewater Trail.

The two remaining Germans, Natalie Geisenberger and Tatjana Hüfner, earned gold and silver medals.

Hamlin, 27, lives in Remsen, N.Y., and is the middle child of Roberts’ brother, Ron Hamlin.

She was named the female athlete of the year by the U.S. Luge Association in 2012 and has been on the world stage since 2005. Her top highest award—before today’s bronze medal—was gold in the 2009 world championships.

Her aunt, Roberts, has supported Hamlin throughout her luge career and has a license tag that reads: “GOERIN.” Roberts went to Torino, Italy, and Vancouver, Canada, to watch Hamlin compete in previous Olympics but couldn’t swing the trip so Sochi, Russia.

As excitement mounted Tuesday morning, Roberts dealt with a churning stomach and jittery nerves.

“I’m really regretting not being there,” she said.

 

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