April 04, 2012 - Bettina Winkler, a 12-year-old Clarkston resident, is putting her drive and determination on the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Bettina Winkler gives thumbs up on her vision for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo provided (click for larger version)
Her speed and drive has already paid off as she recently finished in first place in the 50- and 200-meter dash at the Junior Olympics AAU Nationals for indoor track.
"It is exciting to watch because she is so young and she has so much ambition and drive," said mom, Helga. "When she started this about two years ago we thought it was just going to be a phase. But each year she continues and gets better."
Bettina and her dad, Marvin, were watching footage of the 2008 Summer Olympics on cable when an idea struck.
"She said 'I can do that,'" Marvin remembered the seriousness in her voice. "Then it was 'I am serious, dad. I can do that.' With the determination she has now I know she can do it. When you have a kid dedicating six days a week to it - you know she is serious."
Marvin added Bettina reads the Olympics packet before she goes to bed and is thoughtful over decisions asking herself how it will affect her and her training.
She spends every day focused on running and her training. When she is not going to Ann Arbor for training she is at home stretching and keeping in shape.
Bettina also has the option to try-out for either her first choice United States of America or the Germany team, since she has dual citizenship.
She began running two years ago after she was approached by her athletic director when he noticed her speed even though she was in fourth grade.
"Him and my brother tried to convince me to convince me to try cross country," Bettina said. "It only took a day or two."
She decided to give it a chance and see if she enjoyed it as much as playing basketball.
"It's fun," Bettina said. "I get a good feeling after I run."
"It is something we never expected. No one in the family runs," Helga explained.
We are kind of blown away when we watch her. She was naturally fast.
Bettina also runs with her 9-year-old sister, Anna.
"She is a long-distance runner," she said. "It's good because during cross country she can help me and during track I can help her. I usually have fun when I am with my sister."
Running comes first but Bettina also enjoys playing basketball and watching sports.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.