FREDERICKSBURG, VA (WWBT) - On Friday, all eyes will be on luge athlete Erin Hamlin, who is Team USA's Flag bearer, and she has family right here in the Commonwealth.
Her aunt, Mary Beth Roberts, spoke to NBC12's Ashley Monfort about Hamlin's love for the sport. Hamlin has family in Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia.
Hamlin is the first American to ever medal at the Olympic Games in the singles luge event and is also a World Champion. She's featured in several commercials, like United Airlines and even has her own doll.
"It's pretty cool. They had a bobble head that they made of her," says Roberts, who sports the memorabilia proudly. "It's strange, just because she was kind of a quiet kid, kind of stuck to herself. And for something like this, my brother and I say, 'Wow!' It's like you know, touch me, it's kind of been unreal."
This is Hamlin's fourth Olympic Games, and this year, she was awarded the honor of being Team USA's flag bearer.
"I just texted her right away and said, 'Wow, every time we think we couldn't be prouder of you,' I said, 'Then something like this happens!' It's just awesome. What an honor!"
Roberts says Hamlin came into the sport by chance. She was 12 years old when she entered a luge challenge with her brother near their hometown in upstate New York. Before that, Hamlin was a gymnast and ran track.
"She's always been athletic," says Roberts. "They're a very competitive family."
Roberts and other family members have followed Hamlin to other Olympic Games, but they will be watching from home this year. She says there is family in South Korea to cheer her on.
"It makes a big difference for these guys when they have these competitions," she said. "Especially at the Olympics that they have their support group with them."
Even though Hamlin is going to retire after the Games, she still has a lot to look forward to - she is getting married in July. She starts competing in Pyeongchang on Monday.
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