Sisters hope to take home the gold


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Although they’re only 8 and 14 years old, Natalie and Peyton Steva aim to take home Olympic gold this year.

The two sisters are Iowa City residents who will compete in this year’s U.S. Amateur Athletic Union Olympic Games, the largest national, multisport event for youth in the United States.

“They’ve worked very hard to come this far and are very focused athletes,” said Heather Woody, the sisters’ coach.

Along with the team, Peyton and Natalie start each practice with a simple chant, “OOH-AHH, finish strong.”  With this simple motto, the two sisters hope to motivate themselves and the team to take home the gold.

Woody said Peyton and Natalie are two of 12 kids who will represent the Iowa City area club Iowa Speed at the the AAU Junior Olympics in Norfolk, Virginia.

Peggy McGuire, the girls’ mother, said they’ve been training since February for the opportunity.

McGuire, a track coach at West High, said she started teaching her daughters about track and field when they were 6 years old.

“We used to have little plastic hurdles in our backyard made out of PVC pipe,” she said.

While Peyton said she was grateful that she joined Iowa Speed, she had doubts at first.

“I’m very thankful my mom made me join Iowa Speed; I was always scared to have anyone coach me but my mom, but I’ve learned so much since then,” she said.

This will be Peyton’s second year at the Junior Olympics; she will compete in three events: 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter hurdles, and the long jump.

Peyton said she loves to compete against her peers on the track but off the field still remains friends with some of her biggest rivals.

“I like the rush of competing,” she said. “I’m friends with a lot of the others competing, too.”

Natalie will also return to the Junior Olympics for a second time in long jump.

She is the only one in her age group from Iowa Speed going to compete, and she said she can’t wait to get to Norfolk.

Natalie, who dreams of becoming a veterinarian, said she is excited to go to the beach and the zoo to see all the animals — except the spiders.

The one thing she said she is not looking forward to is the 19-hour drive to Virginia. It’s an expensive trip and a long way from home, and her mother has worked to raise the funds to get them there, including starting a GoFundMe campaign.

“Without GoFundMe, I don’t even know if we could’ve made the trip,” McGuire said.

It’s been a team effort; the two sisters have started lemonade stands, and Peyton has baby-sat as much as she can to raise funds.

Regardless of how they do in their different events, their mother says they’re very grateful for all the support they’ve gotten from friends, family, and coaches.

“We’re just very grateful; they’ve learned way more about being a person than just how to be successful in track and field,” McGuire said.

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