What it’s like to be an Olympian’s parent

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (WAVY) — What’s it like to be the parent of a kid who is the best of the best in the eyes of the world?

“I’m Hagen’s dad!” Richard Kearney said with a laugh. That’s how everyone knows Kearney these days – as the father of an Olympian.

His son, 26-year-old snowboarder Hagen Kearney, made his Olympic debut in PyeongChang after just missing out on the games in Sochi.

“He put his head down and worked hard for the last few years and so it was real rewarding and it was great,” Richard Kearney said.

He knew from a young age his son had what it took to be an Olympian.

“It was a wonderful surprise to get the phone call that he was qualified, but we could see it coming,” Richard said. “He just kept improving every year.”

That improvement came only with hard work, and many setbacks along the way.

Richard said, “So you watch the kids put their heart and soul into it, sometimes it’s success, sometimes it’s just packing your suitcase and moving onto the next event.”

Hagen Kearney’s dad and six other family members went to South Korea to see him compete in the biggest event of his life. In the end, however, Hagen fell short of a medal.

But that doesn’t take away from what he’s achieved.

“No matter what he does with the rest of his adult life … if he continues to compete, great, but if he doesn’t, he’ll always be able to know he set that bar and he jumped over it. So it’s a great thing,” Richard Kearney said.