Memory Games

While an Olympic competition sometimes takes just minutes, the afterglow can last a lifetime.
July 27, 2008
Interviews by Christina Breda Antoniades | 2008 Photos by Keith Barraclough | Audio by Whitney Shefte | Q&A, Monday

Jair Lynch, 36

Washington
Sixth place, gymnastics team competition, 1992 (Barcelona); fifth place, gymnastics team competition, and silver medalist, parallel bars, 1996 (Atlanta).


I GREW UP IN SHEPARD PARK, which was middle income, with Rock Creek Park on one side and a struggling urban corridor on another. After Atlanta, I came home, and I was greeted by D.C. with open arms. There was an outpouring of emotion.

I was very comfortable with [being] a role model, but every time I went to an elementary school in D.C. and had to walk through hallways where the ceilings were falling down or the windows didn't open or there were no computers, I was reminded of this decay of not only the physical infrastructure but also the social. You're like, Wait a minute, this is the same Georgia Avenue that I grew up in, and it hasn't changed.

The built environment was affecting the hope of those neighborhoods. [So] when we started the company [Jair Lynch Development Partners], it was to reimagine urban neighborhoods to instill hope. We realized that by putting back the assets that were lost -- quality housing, jobs, retail, recreation, educational assets -- we were giving neighborhoods the tools to grow on their own. That sets the stage for the social infrastructure to become cohesive again.

I was elected to be one of the eight United States Olympic Committee board members. We provide the technical, financial and emotional support [to athletes] so they can succeed. I take a lot of lessons from that work and bring it back to D.C. When you ask a young wrestler about where he thinks he can go, it's not much different from asking a neighborhood, "Where do you think you can go?" We ask, and then we try to come up with something great.

Fast Forward

Jair Lynch Development Partners has completed 1 million square feet of residential, commercial, retail and institutional projects in the District, Lynch says. Lynch also was a member of the executive committee for the Washington area's 2012 Olympic bid.

Related

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TIMELAPSE: Our athletes gather for a photo session.
Q&A, Monday
The author and the athletes take your questions and comments.
Countdown to Beijing
Read full coverage of the 2008 Olympics.

PHOTOS: Current Photography by Keith Barraclough, 1996 Photograph by John Gaps III/Associated Press; AUDIO: Whitney Shefte WEB EDITOR: Amanda McGrath - washingtonpost.com

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